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The unbelievable story behind Woman in the Window author Dan Mallory

Bestselling author admitted to lying about having a brain tumour to colleagues

Annabel Nugent
Saturday 22 May 2021 11:05 BST
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The Woman in the Window trailer

One of this year’s most highly anticipated films The Woman in the Window has finally arrived.

The film landed on Netflix today (14 May) after extensive delays. It was originally slated for release in October 2019 but faced setbacks due to re-edits following feedback from test screenings and was later postponed due to the pandemic.

The twisty thriller – starring Amy Adams as an agoraphobic voyeur who believes she has witnessed the murder of her new neighbour, Jane (Julianne Moore) – is based on the bestselling debut novel of the same name by the pseudonymous AJ Finn aka Dan Mallory.

Controversy surrounding Mallory – a former book editor – arose when he became the subject of a 2019 profile by Ian Parker published in The New Yorker, in which he was accused of a long history of falsehoods concerning his professional history and health.

The profile laid out a series of claims that bear an astonishing similarity to the novel that Mallory studied during his time at Oxford University: The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith.

It claimed that Mallory faked having a brain tumour and that he later impersonated his brother, Jake, in emails to his colleagues updating them on his “recovery”. Mallory denied to The New Yorker that he was the author of those emails.

The article also alleged that Mallory had repeatedly said he had cancer, including in an Oxford University application, and to his colleagues at publishing houses in both London and New York.

Though the publication confirmed that his parents and three siblings are alive, it claimed that Mallory submitted an essay alongside his application to Oxford’s New College that stated his mother died of cancer and that his brother also died in his care.

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 (Rex)

It also alleged repeated instances of Mallory lying about his professional abilities. In one supposed incident, he claimed that he had been an editor at US publisher Ballantine, when in reality he had been an assistant.

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Mallory reportedly signed his emails “Dr Daniel Mallory” and told authors and employers that he had a PhD from Oxford, but the university confirmed that he never submitted a doctoral thesis.

Furthermore, the piece claims Mallory faked a British accent, despite being raised in the US and that on a few occasions, during his time as an assistant at Ballantine, people found plastic cups filled with urine in and near his boss Linda Marrow’s office.

“Mallory was suspected of responsibility but was not challenged. No similar cups were found after he quit,” reads the article. He did, however, through a spokesperson, state that he was not responsible for this.

In a statement responding to The New Yorker, Mallory confirmed that he had never had cancer, stating that he had used the illness to cope with his bipolar disorder.

Film Review The Woman in the Window

“ 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,” he said.

“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.”

“And for fifteen years, even as I worked with psychotherapists, I was utterly terrified of what people would think of me if they knew—that they’d conclude I was defective in a way that I should be able to correct, or, worse still, that they wouldn’t believe me. Dissembling seemed the easier path.”

He added: “With the benefit of hindsight, I’m sorry to have taken, or be seen to have taken, advantage of anyone else’s goodwill, however desperate the circumstances; that was never the goal.”

The Woman in the Window is available to watch on Netflix now.

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