It’s been a year since First Wife and First Men, two of the most famous First World War novels, were published by Penguin.
And this time around, they’re suing their own wives, their husbands and their friends for libel.
The suits, brought by the First Wife’s widow, the First Men’s widow and the First Women’s widow in the US, allege that they were defamed by the novels, and accuse the authors of defamation.
The publishers have already settled their legal battle with the First Husband’s widow.
But this time, the publisher, Macmillan, is taking things further by claiming the novels are defamation of character.
“The First Women were in no way responsible for the libelous nature of the novels,” says Kate Smith, publisher of the First World and Second World War periodicals, Penguin Press.
“They were not in any way involved in the publication of the books.”
The First Women, who were members of the German Resistance, were accused of plotting with their husbands to assassinate Adolf Hitler, and their husbands of being in league with the German police to murder the prime minister.
“We are not in a position to comment further on the litigation or any of the claims,” a spokesperson for Penguin said.
The First Men were also accused of being part of the Nazi Gestapo, but Smith says the book claims the men were not part of any Nazi network.
“Neither the First People nor the First Mens are named in the novel,” she says.
“So we can’t comment on any of those claims, including the allegations about the First Mans and the first wives.”
What the lawsuits say The First Husbands claim that the first wife’s husband, William Henry, is guilty of libel because he “made it clear that his intention was to destroy his marriage and his marriage with his wife and their children”.
This is the first time the First Wives have made such a claim.
They also accuse William Henry of “blatant, deliberate and deliberate slander” of the book, by saying the first women were “puppets of the Gestapo” and that he and his wife were “part of a secret Nazi conspiracy to kill Hitler”.
“William Henry is not an innocent man,” they say in the lawsuit.
“He was a spy, an accomplice, an accessory and a traitor to a crime.”
“The accusation of the defamation of William Henry as a spy and an accomplices of the Hitler regime is a slander of character.”
What’s in the suit?
The suit says the books allege that the FirstWives “admitted and consented to the murder of Hitler”, that William Henry and his First Wife, Martha, “engaged in a plot to murder Hitler by disguising themselves as his bodyguards” and “that they plotted to assassinate Hitler with other members of their secret Nazi network, including some of their own first wives”.
The suit also alleges that the novel “contradicts the First Woman’s account of the events in the First Man’s house”.
The First Wifes allege that William and Martha “made the following statements” about the book’s fictional plot: “They told us that it was all a fantasy.”
The suit alleges that when the novel was published in the UK, “The Second Men and the Third Wives, along with William and the other members, were taken to court by First Women to have their wives’ claims against them dismissed”.
It also alleges: “The Third Wife testified that she was in love with William Henry.”
“He told her that he was the son of the Third Woman, but she could not believe it.
He said he was a German spy.”
The lawsuit also claims that the novels “contrary to the First Mother’s testimony and the evidence of the Second Women and First Women in the trial, falsely attribute to the Third Wife a false story that she had a secret agreement with the Third Husband that she would not disclose anything about the secret agreement.”
The novel was not published in Britain.
The lawsuits are part of a legal campaign to stop the publication or distribution of historical fiction that “in any way defames” First World war First Men and First Womens, who fought in World War I. The US government is also pushing for publishers to ban the books in books for young children.
“These books are intended to be fun, to be educational, to entertain and to be an entertainment for young readers,” says David Hargrove, a spokesperson from the US Department of Justice, in a statement.
“And we believe children should be able to choose what books to read.”
What you need to know about the books The First Woman of the Great War is not the only First Woman to claim the book is libelous.
In 2016, author Laura Miller published her book, First Worshipful Widow, in the USA.
She claims the book “incurs certain libelous character allegations”.
She is seeking $1 million in damages from Mac