Author: Molly Guptill Manning
Publisher: The University of Alabama Press
ISBN: 978-0-8173-1787-4

When Tutt’s autobiography was published in 1943, Train thought he was providing the public with an amusing situation: a fictional character writing the story of his own life. However, Train did not fully appreciate how badly the public wanted to believe that Tutt existed,” author Molly Guptill Manning writes in her book, The Myth of Ephraim Tutt.

With two hundred and sixty pages, this hardbound book has a jacket cover depicting writer Arthur Train, pipe in hand, with a painting of supposed Ephraim Tutt in the background. With a foreword by Train’s son, John, there is also an appendix listing all of Train’s forty-seven books, notes, bibliography and index. The book is geared mainly to lawyers or writers of the law who appreciate a great American hoax as it is ultimately a history and review of a fictional character and his literary creator penned almost seventy years ago.

Ephraim Tutt was a fictitious character that Arthur Train wrote often about over a twenty-five year period. Being a lawyer, Train wrote in such legal detail and with so much compassion about Tutt that the general public considered him a factual person who was always on the right side of the law. His autobiography Yankee Lawyer about the famed fictional lawyer was so well received by enlisted soldiers during World War II that they could not get enough of his stories. When Train published the stories about his fake friend, debates, letters and conversations transpired that Tutt was an unbelievable, well-orchestrated hoax.

Manning takes the reader from the real life of author Train to how he portrayed Tutt, including the extent of inventing family members and a true love with photographs, explaining law cases won and strategies in detail along with his applying to be in Who’s Who. The book also compares this supposed hoax to other pseudo writings throughout current decades, the editor’s notes and the publishing house’s problems. An actual lawsuit was filed against Train and the publisher, forcing further debates, with even cigar companies and others endorsing and supporting the fictitious icon. Even though Train died at age seventy, the imaginary life of Tutt remained with another book published, once again questioning the man’s existence. The author of this book examines, explores and enriches the reader about every facet of the almost comical circumstances of someone that never existed.

A lawyer herself, the writer states, “Tutt possessed all of these characteristics – he was a slave to justice, he sympathized with his clients and cared about their cases, and he did not practice law to make money, but to do good.”

In the end, the epilogue shows the true affection and dedication the author has for not only the so-called Tutt and his clever literary inventor, but how she easily gets the reader to fall into the same situation of wanting to believe the beloved lawyer truly existed.

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