September 20, 2019

After Caroline Calloway: should ghostwriters speak out against their subjects?

Alison Flood

Natalie Beach’s tell-all about the controversial influencer wasn’t the first case of a ghost exposing their subject, following Julian Assange and Donald Trump

Thirty years after ghostwriting Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal, Tony Schwartz described the experience as like putting lipstick on a pig. He felt a “deep sense of remorse” at helping bring the man who would become president gain wider attention. Andrew O’Hagan famously detailed the extraordinary details of ghosting Julian Assange’s memoir, including watching the WikiLeaks founder eat jam pudding with his hands, before the latter backed out of a £600,000 book deal. This week, the writer Natalie Beach joined the grand tradition of ghostwriters speaking out about their subjects, with a deeply intimate essay in the Cut laying out how she used to ghost everything for her former friend and controversial “influencer” Caroline Calloway: from Instagram captions to the aborted book that once attracted a $375,000 (£300,000) publishing deal, until their relationship broke down irretrievably.

Beach’s account says that after the pair put the book proposal together, the influencer felt unable to write it. Beach says she “bought us time with the publishers by writing a quarter of the manuscript by myself”.

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