I already wrote a post about the real stories and legends behing the most famous fairy tales (click HERE if you missed it)but, did you know that “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov was inspired by a real chilling story.
Florence “Sally” Horner‘s tragic story hit the country’s newspapers in 1950. Five years later, Nabokov’s novel about charming Humbert Humbert and 12-year-old Dolores Haze (a.k.a., Lolita) began to arrive in bookstores.
On June 1948, Florence stole a note book from a local supply shop. The act was a rite of passage, the token for admittance to a girl’s club, a sorority she was eager to join. A man who claimed to be an FBI agent caught her in the act. He was way more older than the 11-year-old girl and he frightened her… but let her go, until the following day, when he appeared outside her school. This time he had some “instructions” : She’d have to convince her mother he was the father of two school friends, inviting her to a seashore vacation. He would take care of the rest with a phone call and a convincing appearance at the Camden bus depot.
His name was Frank La Salle, and he was no FBI agent. It took 21 months to break free of him, after a cross-country journey from Camden, New Jersey, to San Jose, California.
La Salle was already a convicted rapist and molested the girl, telling her that if she didn’t comply, he’d turn her in for stealing. During these years the pair travelled the country and where she attended school he pretended to be her father.
It was almost two years until Sally was able to reach out for help and break away from her perpetrator. LaSalle was arrested and Sally was 13-year-old, but her story took a tragic turn as she died two years later, killed in a car accident.
Nabokov saved newspaper clippings about the case, which he scribbled detailed notes on, but his debt to the defining experience in Horner’s life remains largely unknown to the reading public.
Elle Palmer. xo