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UKSolicitorJA
UKSolicitorJA, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  English solicitor with over 12 years experience
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I am writing a novel. If I put words in the mouth of a living

Resolved Question:

I am writing a novel. If I put words in the mouth of a living person which he or she has not said but which are not libellous is this permissible? What action may they take if they do not like it?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 3 years ago.
Hello,

Do you have the permission of this person to mention them in your novel?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No obviously not.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

If I had I would not have asked the question. One of them I know the other I don't. They are both peers of the realm.

Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 3 years ago.
Thank you.

What kind if words were you thinking of imputing to these people?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Both Peers have in their homes evidence that Francis Bacon, an Elizabethan, was Shakespeare, which forms part of my novel.


I have been a guest of one peer on several occasions many years ago but who is now a recluse and un-contactable, although I know the features of his Elizabethan home which I have described in my book (it is not open to the public) and have described a fictional dinner party with a fictional dinner guest who is the heroine of my story. I have not had the peer say any words but have described him in complimentary words as well as some description of his home.


 


 


The other peer is well known to a good lady friend of mine who has said I should write to him. Her now dead husband was born in the same stately home which is open to the public and well known. I have put a few words in his mouth in which he greets the heroine of my story and helps her find the evidence she looks for. I also have my heroine have a few pleasant words of exchange with the peers wife.


 


I would imagine your reply will be to try to make contact with them and to show them my wording, and the context of my story, but before I do so I would like to know my position in law.


 


 

Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 3 years ago.
Thank you.

If you are not writing anything which defames the peers e.g. Your writing:

Is to the person’s discredit.
Tends to lower him or her in the estimation of others.
Causes him or her to be shunned or avoided.
Causes him or her to be exposed to hatred, ridicule or contempt.

Then you should be fine in law and they cannot take any action as such against you. However, as you rightly point out, it is good to contact them and seek their approval to them being mentioned in your novel and for the context in which they will be mentioned.

Hope this helps

UKSolicitorJA and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you. It was unexpectedly helpful. I did not ask the question in relation to US law where the book may be published but seeing US laws of libel etc are less stringent than the UK I will assume that I would get the same answer as yours from a US lawyer.

Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 3 years ago.
Presumably so.All the best. Please remember to leave feedback.