The Duchess of Sussex has been accused of ripping off writer Corrinne Averiss’ story with her debut book The Bench – but the British author has insisted she sees ‘no similarities’ between the two.
In a statement announcing the book yesterday, Meghan Markle, 39, said her children’s book, which will be published on June 8 by Random House, was inspired by a poem she wrote for Prince Harry at the time of the birth of their son Archie.
Royal watchers have been quick to point out similarities between the story and a children’s book by Manchester-based Corrinne Averiss, The Boy and The Bench, which was released in 2018.
Both books feature similar colourful illustrations and a story centred around the ‘special bond’ between a father and son as they sit on a bench together.
One Twitter user commented: ‘Almost identical to Corrinne Averiss book ‘The Boy On the Bench’, even the cover.’
However, in a statement, Corrinne insisted: ‘Reading the description and published excerpt of the Duchess’s new book, this is not the same story or the same theme as The Boy on the Bench. I don’t see any similarities apart from the use of a bench – which exist in as many stories as they do parks and gardens.’
It comes as sources told Vanity Fair‘s Katie Nicholl Meghan plans to write more books in the future, revealing: ‘She wanted to have a go at writing a children’s book first and depending on the success of this, there will be more. She is also keen to write books for adults too.’
The Duchess of Sussex, 39, has been accused of ripping off a British children’s author with her debut book The Bench
Corrinne Averiss’ book features similar illustrations of a father and son sitting on a bench together, and is described online as a ‘gentle, empathetic story about overcoming fears and being yourself’
One illustration from Corrinne’s book captures a birds-eye view of a father and son sitting together on a park bench (left), while Meghan’s new book features a similar image (right)
According to Corrinne’s author biography on Amazon, she is ‘drawn to themes of identity and belonging’ in her books and aims to ‘deliver big feelings with humour and tenderness’
Another wrote: ‘I hope the author she ripped off is going to sue her, the cheek of this woman! The Boy on the Bench by Corrinne Averiss.’
Corrinne’s book features a story about a father and son enjoying nature from a bench and their bond with one another.
According to an online description, the book follows the father and son as they visit a playground but the main character, Tom, doesn’t feel brave enough to join in with the other children.
The description continues: ‘Tom can’t see a space for himself anywhere in the playground. Not on the slide, or on the roundabout or on the swings.
Royal fans were quick to point out similarities between the boys, suggesting the covers, graphic and story were ‘almost identical’
‘But when a little girl loses her teddy, will Tom have the courage to help?’
Online, it is described as a ‘gentle, empathetic story about overcoming fears and being yourself’.
Illustrations in the story, which was released months before Meghan gave birth to son Archie, include a father and son sitting together on a bench, as well as a birds-eye view of the duo together.
Meanwhile, other illustrations show a diverse group of children playing together.
Meanwhile another illustration in Corrinne’s book, which came out in 2018 months before Meghan and Harry welcomed their son Archie, sees a father and son cuddling up on a bench (left). The Duchess’ book contains a similar image (right)
Who is Corrine Averiss, the author who began writing children’s books while working for kid’s TV?
Corrinne Averiss grew up in the Midlands, before going on to study English Literature in St Andrews.
She has since settled in Manchester with her husband, daughter and tabby cat.
She began working as a writer and producer, and worked her way up to head of CITV’s creative team.
She created the four-time Children’s BAFTA-winning Share a Story competition.
She also worked at CBBC and co-created ‘Pip Ahoy!’ for Milkshake.
Her first book, A Dot in the Snow, was published in 2014 and was shortlisted for the CILIP Greenaway award, featured on CBeebies’ Bedtime Stories and in The Sunday Times’ Books of the Year 2016.
She has since ten published titles for Andersen Press, Egmont, Oxford University Press, Quarto, Stripes and Hachette, including The Boy on the Bench.
My Pet Star illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw won Sainsbury’s Children’s Book of the Year in 2019 and will reach over 450,000 homes as part of Booktrust’s Pyjamarama campaign in 2020.
Corrinne is currently developing a new stop-motion preschool series called ‘Tweedy & Fluff’.
Corrinne, who has spent much of her life working in children’s TV as a producer and director at companies including Ragdoll, CITV and CBeebies, has written several books for children.
According to her Amazon biography, she is also ‘drawn to themes of identity and belonging’ in her books and aims to ‘deliver big feelings with humour and tenderness’.
Meanwhile Meghan’s book, The Bench similarly aims to explore the ‘special bond between father and son’ as ‘seen through a mother’s eyes.’
It will be illustrated by bestselling Californian artist Christian Robinson, who called it a ‘celebration of the relationship between father and son.’
A publicity release said Meghan, who chose to use her title on the cover of the book, wanted the story to be told through an ‘inclusive lens’ and will feature a ‘diverse group of father and sons’.
In one illustration, a red-headed soldier wearing an American-style Army cap is seen holding his young son aloft as a woman watches on crying from a window. This is a likely reference to her and Harry, who served in Afghanistan with the Blues and Royals. The words read: ‘This is your bench, Where life will begin, For you and our son our baby, our kin’.
In another, a father and son can be seen from a birds-eye view as they rest together on a park bench.
Royal fans were quick to point out similarities between the two story books, with one person commenting: ‘This was stolen from Corinne Averiss – The Boy on the Bench, check it out on Amazon.
‘The graphics and the colours are almost identical. She is about as authentic as a $3 bill.’
Another wrote: ‘Before you run and out and waste money on the book by Harry’s wife, read The Boy on the Bench by Corrinne Averiss and Gabriel Alborozo. The original.’
Meghan, who went by the pen name ‘Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex’, announced in a statement yesterday: ‘The Bench started as a poem I wrote for my husband on Father’s Day, the month after Archie was born.
‘That poem became this story. Christian layered in beautiful and ethereal watercolour illustrations that capture the warmth, joy, and comfort of the relationship between fathers and sons from all walks of life; this representation was particularly important to me, and Christian and I worked closely to depict this special bond through an inclusive lens.
‘My hope is that The Bench resonates with every family, no matter the makeup, as much as it does with mine.’
Sources close to the Duchess have revealed she has long aspired to write a children’s book and hopes to write more in the future.
They told Vanity Fair the royal ‘loves writing’ and is ‘very good at it.’
Meghan, who went by the pen name ‘Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex’, claimed the inspiration for her story came from a poem she had written for Harry when their son was born