The Real Loli­ta: The Kid­nap­ping of Sal­ly Horner and the Nov­el that Scan­dal­ized the World

  • From the Publisher
March 29, 2018

A grip­ping true-crime inves­ti­ga­tion of the 1948 abduc­tion of Sal­ly Horner and how it inspired Vladimir Nabokov’s clas­sic nov­el, Loli­ta.

Vladimir Nabokov’s Loli­ta is one of the most beloved and noto­ri­ous nov­els of all time. And yet very few of its read­ers know that the sub­ject of the nov­el was inspired by a real-life case: the 1948 abduc­tion of eleven-year-old 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, pub­lic records, and inter­views with remain­ing rel­a­tives, Sarah Wein­man uncov­ers 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.

Sal­ly Horner’s sto­ry 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.

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