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NZ author uses fake diary as source for biography

The publishers of New Zealand author Veronica Buckley's latest biography say they are holding the book to pulp sections she based on fictional "secret diaries" of France's Sun King.

Buckley claimed in her latest book, Madame de Maintenon: The Secret Wife of Louis XIV, that the diaries were found in 1997, 282 years after they were written, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported yesterday.

She quoted snippets from the journals found in "a packet of yellowed papers, wrapped in string and sealed with faded red wax" hidden "inside a heavy old chest in a Loire valley manor house", reproducing one section at length to describe a typical day in the royal life.

"There is just one problem: Louis XIV did not keep a secret diary," the newspaper reported.

What Buckley quoted was the work of Francois Bluche, a French academic who assembled his "diary" by piecing together information gleaned from myriad historical documents.

The result was a book, Le Journal Secret de Louis XIV, which Buckley got hold of and used as a primary source.

Her publisher, Bloomsbury, has had to postpone the biography's May 5 launch by two months while it corrects the offending passages by cutting them out and inserting new ones in "thousands" of copies.

The embarrassing error came to light on April 19, when Buckley acknowledged her mistake and apologised "for any confusion or difficulty" her error might have caused.

Buckley, who lives in Vienna, was unavailable for comment.

- NZPA

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