W.W. Norton, the publisher of Blake Bailey’s best-selling Philip Roth: The Biography, is halting all shipments and promo related to the book after he was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women, the Los Angeles Times reports. The publisher’s actions come after Bailey’s agency, Story Factory, dropped him completely. The women who have come forward said they met Bailey when he was their 8th-grade English teacher. One of his former students described his behavior as “textbook grooming.” “He used our trust in him against us in the cruelest and most intimate way possible,” said Eve Peyton, one of Bailey’s former students.
In a New York Times story published the same day, Peyton alleged that Bailey had raped her in 2003, when she was a graduate student. Bailey reportedly wrote to her in the summer of 2020 to apologize for “the awfulness on that night 17 years ago.” Another woman, Valentina Rice, alleged that Bailey raped her while the two stayed at the home of a book critic in 2015. She said she told Norton about what happened via an anonymous email in 2018, which the company forwarded to Bailey, leading him to contact her.
Bailey’s lawyer, Billy Gibbens, has maintained that the accusations are “false” and “scurrilous.” “We are baffled that the Story Factory would have acted on such unreliable, demonstrably false information without bothering to consult Mr. Bailey, and we are considering all of Mr. Bailey’s legal options related to these defamatory comments,” he said.