An award-winning author accused of “racism” has hired private detectives to investigate the social media profiles of Chocolat writer Joanne Harris OBE, following a battle of words between the two.
Last year, in her memoir Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me, author Kate Clanchy was accused by online commentators of stereotyping and denigrating ethnic minority children with autism.
Clanchy said the social media investigators she hired have evidence that Harris, who is the head of the writers’ union, sent her a message asking her to apologize to her critics immediately after dating one of them. spoken.
In a letter to associates and members of the Society of Authors seen by The timesClanchy, an Oxford poet and teacher, also accused Harris of calling her “ignorant, cruel and patronizing.”
She wrote that she had become a scapegoat for problems all over the publishing world, as ‘Harris had suggested’ [she should]’.
In a letter to Society of Authors staff and members seen by The Times, Oxford poet and teacher Kate Clanchy accused Society of Authors president Joanne Harris of calling her “ignorant, cruel and patronizing.”
Clanchy’s letter to the Society describes the online abuse she experienced after critics drew attention to some sentences in her book.
Clanchy writes that the ordeal nearly killed her and that it offended her students, whose poetry was included in the book.
She went on to say in her letter that Harris hadn’t read the book, but still agreed with commentators online that it was “problematic.”
Meanwhile, opponents, including Sunny Singh, a professor at London Metropolitan University, claimed they had been targeted by racists for berating Clanchy.
Clanchy claims Harris contacted her “in an unsolicited direct message,” despite not being a member of the association last year.
In the message, Clanchy said, Harris encouraged her to apologize to Singh and two others who claimed to have been attacked after criticizing her.
Harris wrote: ‘This isn’t really about you: The anger and discontent with the industry’s attitude to racing was waiting for a moment to erupt and this time you happened to be the trigger.’
French-English author Joanne Harris, who wrote Chocolat. Harris is president of the Society of Authors writers’ union, which is under attack by writer Kate Clanchy
Clanchy was attacked online for including “racist tropes” in her book, including describing students with “chocolate-colored skin” and “almond-shaped eyes.”
The 57-year-old writer apologized and promised to rewrite parts of the book, but was essentially dropped by publisher Pan Macmillan.
Clanchy previously won the Orwell Prize for Political Writing in 2020, and the book featured poetry by students she taught at Oxford Spiers Academy, but the revised version was shelved.
The Society for Authors, which has more than 12,000 members, became embroiled in “the culture war” when its former president, His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman, defended Clanchy last August.
In his online post, Pullman said those who condemned it before reading it “would find a comfortable home in Isis or the Taliban.”
He later deleted the tweet and apologized after a response from activists who claimed the book was “racist.”
The Society later invited Pullman to attend a race awareness training.
The 75-year-old author later resigned in March, writing in his resignation letter, “I realized that I would not be free to express my personal opinion as long as I remained president.”
In a letter Pullman sent this month, he reportedly said that the board committee and the Society’s president, Harris, “immediately took a stance of smug neutrality…Although more smug than neutral.”
He added that part of the union wanted to “use society as a vehicle for sign politics,” as reported by The Times.
His Dark Materials author Sir Philip Pullman has been criticized for defending Kate Clanchy after she was “cancelled” by her publishers for her award-winning memoir. He later resigned as president of the Society of Authors
In a statement to those who received Clanchy’s letter, the Society said the letter “raised serious allegations about the chair that should be fully investigated,” adding, “Joanne Harris strongly denies these allegations.”
The Company has been approached for comment.