Who is Helen Darville?

For those outside Australia, the story of Helen Darville may require some explanation.

Helen Darville is the real author of The Hand that Signed the Paper, a book initially published under the name Helen Demidenko. The book presents an account by a .. of her relatives involvement in the genocide of Jews in World WarII. From the point of view of the oppressors, the Jews were largely responsible for the devastating famines that wrecked the Ukrania under pre-war Soviet rule. The book intially attracted arguments by those attacking the book for a combination of anti-semitism and historical inaccuracies, and those defending it as a new authentic voice in Australia. It won a series of literary prizes, including the prestigious Miles Franklin award. Late in 1995, however, it was revealed that the author of the book was in fact not of Ukranian descent, but Helen Darville, born of English parents in a Brisbane suburb. Since then, much debate has occurred between the moralists outraged at her deception, and the post-modernists, a largely mythical class of sophists willing to argue for anything inauthentic.

Demidenko has thus moved onto the list of false authors who have played such a signficant role in Australian cultural history.

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