Real-life abduction story that inspired Lolita to W&N

Real-life abduction story that inspired Lolita to W&N

Weidenfeld & Nicolson, the publishers behind the first UK edition of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1959), is publishing a new book by Publishers Marketplace news editor Sarah Weinman about the abduction and tragic life of Sally Horner, thought to be the real-life inspiration for Lolita.

UK and Commonwealth rights, including Australia and New Zealand, to Among the Wholesome Children were sold at auction to Holly Harley, assistant editor at Weidenfeld & Nicolson, by Jane Finigan at Lutyens & Rubenstein on behalf of David Patterson at Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency.

US rights were meanwhile sold to Zack Wagman at Ecco, HarperCollins USA, at auction, and rights for North America to Anne Collins at Knopf Canada, at auction, by David Patterson at Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency.

The idea Lolita is based on the life of Horner stems from an aside by Humbert Humbert in Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, that reads: "Had I done to Dolly, perhaps, what Frank La Salle, a fifty-year-old mechanic, had done to eleven-year-old Sally Horner in 1948?"

Horner was abducted by Frank La Salle and taken on a cross-country odyssey, after she was caught trying to steal a notebook from a five-and-dime store in Camden, New Jersey. Her abduction lasted almost two years (21 months) from Camden to Atlantic City, Baltimore, Dallas and, finally, San Jose, before she was able to escape.

Among the Wholesome Children is "a gripping account of survival at the hands of a manipulative abuser" told by Weinman using never-before-seen documents and original interviews. It is pitched as both "a gritty window into post-Second World War America" and "an astonishing new insight into how Lolita came to be written".

Weinman is the editor of Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels from the 1940s and 50s (Library of America) and Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense (Penguin). She is also news editor for Publishers Marketplace, where she works on Publishers Lunch.