Author(s): Sarah Weinman
A gripping true-crime investigation of the 1948 abduction of 11-year-old Sally Horner, which brings the forgotten girl--and the two years she was forced to pretend she was the daughter of her kidnapper and abuser--back to life. The real-life inspiration of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita.
Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita is one of the most beloved and notorious novels of all time, yet very few of its readers know that the subject of the novel was derived from a real-life case: the 1948 abduction of Sally Horner.
Weaving together suspenseful crime narrative, cultural and social history, and literary investigation, The Real Lolita tells Sally Horner's full story for the very first time. Drawing upon extensive investigations, legal documents, old news stories, public records, and interviews with remaining relatives, Sarah Weinman establishes with authority how much Nabokov knew of the Sally Horner case and the efforts he took to disguise that knowledge during the process of writing and publishing Lolita. As she walks us through Sally's story, Weinman takes us on an intimate and panoramic tour of mid-century America, from Sally's home in Camden, New Jersey, to her place of rescue in California, and back to the East Coast again.
The story of Sally Horner echoes the stories of countless girls and women who never had the chance to speak for themselves. By diving deeper in the publication history of Lolita and restoring Sally to her rightful place in the lore of the novel's creation, The Real Lolita casts a new light on the dark inspiration for a modern classic.