Dan Mallory: Best-selling author behind Woman in the Window admits lying about brain cancer

American writer who studied at Oxford says he actually has bipolar disorder, and lied about cancer because he was 'utterly terrified' about what people might think of his mental health issues

Roisin O'Connor@Roisin_OConnor
Thursday 07 February 2019 09:48
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Dan Mallory was accused of lying about having cancer, along with telling several other falsehoods about his family's health, in an extensive article by the New Yorker
Dan Mallory was accused of lying about having cancer, along with telling several other falsehoods about his family's health, in an extensive article by the New Yorker

Best-selling author Dan Mallory has admitted to lying about having brain cancer, after a profile in the New Yorker accused him of a history of lying about his personal life.

The US author behind The Woman in the Window, which was published under the pseudonym AJ Finn, said he claimed to have cancer as a way to disguise his struggles with bipolar disorder.

The Woman in the Window was published in January 2018, and debuted at number on the New York Times best-seller list. Before its release, Mallory had worked as a book editor at publishing houses in London and New York.

A film adaptation of his book, about a woman with agoraphobia who spies on her neighbours, stars Amy Adams and Gary Oldman, and is being released this year.

According to the New Yorker, Mallory – a 39-year-old American who studied at Oxford University – allegedly told several colleagues that he had been diagnosed with brain cancer, and also included the claim in a university application.

The article also accused Mallory of telling people that his mother had died of cancer, and that his brother also died. While Mallory's mother did have cancer when he was a teenager, she and his brother are both alive.

Responding to the article with a statement at the end of the investigation, he wrote: "It is the case that on numerous occasions in the past, I have stated, implied, or allowed others to believe that I was afflicted with a physical malady instead of a psychological one: cancer, specifically.

"My mother battled aggressive breast cancer starting when I was a teenager; it was the formative experience of my adolescent life, synonymous with pain and panic. I felt intensely ashamed of my psychological struggles – they were my scariest, most sensitive secret."

Mallory claimed he was "utterly terrifed" of what people might think of him if they knew about his mental health problems. "Dissembling seemed the easier path," he said.

"Like many afflicted with severe bipolar II disorder, I experienced crushing depressions, delusional thoughts, morbid obsessions and memory problems. It's been horrific, not least because, in my distress, I did or said or believed things I would never ordinarily say, or do, or belive – things of which, in many instances, I have absolutely no recollection.

"With the benefit of hindsight, I'm sorry to have taken, or be seen to have taken, advantage of anyone's goodwill, however desperate the circumstances; that was never the goal."

Mallory's agent confirmed the statement to BBC News, while a spokesperson for HarperCollins UK told The Bookseller: "We don't comment on the personal lives of our employees or authors. Professionally, Dan was a highly valued editor and the publication The Woman in the Window – a Sunday Times best-seller, speaks for itself."

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