It was published in the summer of 1969 and ostensibly written by Penelope Ashe.
By October 13th of that same year, Naked Came the Stranger had already sold 90,000 copies, becoming a bestseller.
By November of that same year, when sales of the book only continued to increase, the real authors for some silly reason began to feel guilty — at which point they revealed a startling fact: this book was a literary hoax.
In actuality, Naked Came the Stranger was written by a group of journalists, the ringleader of whom was one Michael McGrady, an excellent columnist for Newsday magazine. His stated intention was “to write a deliberately terrible book with a lot of sex, to illustrate that popular American literary culture had become mindlessly vulgar.”
With the help of twenty-four of his colleagues, each of whom wrote a chapter and at least one of whom was a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, he succeeded beyond his wildest expectations.
Reportedly, after the book was finished, editors had to dumb the book down because the writing was too good.
Naked Came the Stranger was published by a man named Lyle Stuart, an actual publisher known for putting out trashy and controversial books. Stuart took the cover photo — without permission — from a from a Hungarian nudist magazine, the model and photographer of which later asked for and received emoluments.
The moral of the story?