‘Do you know anything about another Joseph Conrad who has published a novel some time ago?’ (CL 6: 425), Conrad asked his agent in May 1919 following an enquiry from the booksellers W. H. Smith, who had received a request for thirty copies of The Waitress Bold by a writer supposedly bearing his name. The absence of any records of Conrad’s mysterious namesake or his improbably titled novel, coupled with the fact that the same customer had also ordered a copy of The Bald-Headed Man, a novel by Andrew Simpson (CL 6: 423n), suggests that Conrad may have been the victim of a humorous prank. Then again, perhaps the unidentified customer was simply mistaken. James Joyce was once provoked to fury when the Frankfurter Zeitung erroneously attributed to him a story by Michael Joyce, a minor novelist whose work the established writer denounced in a rare burst of intolerance as ‘a fraudulent shoddy piece of journalese’ (Joyce, 1966, 3: 227).
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