5 Famous People Who Faced Blatant Accusations of Plagiarism

In a world fueled by internet plagiarism scandals, it can be hard to imagine some of the most famous and successful people in history suffering from allegations of intellectual theft. From politicians to authors, many renowned figures have faced accusations of plagiarism throughout their illustrious careers.

Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Joe Biden, the current President of the United States and former Senator from Delaware, is no stranger to plagiarism allegations. In 1987, during his run for president, it was discovered that some passages in a speech he gave at an Iowa campaign rally were taken almost word-for-word from British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock's speeches. Though Biden maintained no intentional wrongdoing, he withdrew from the race shortly after that.

More recently, in 2013, while giving remarks at Harvard's Institute of Politics forum about gun control legislation passed by Congress earlier that year, portions of those remarks appeared to have been copied directly from an op-ed piece previously published by the author and political commentator Joshua Horwitz in The Washington Post. Despite pressure to resign over this incident as well as others involving plagiarism during his career as a senator and vice president (including one occasion where it seemed portions had been lifted from Robert F Kennedy's famous 1968 speech), Biden has remained steadfastly in office — even after admitting being "less than perfect" when it comes to citations.

Martin Luther King Jr.


Martin Luther King Jr. is a towering figure in civil rights history, remembered for delivering stirring speeches such as his famous "I Have A Dream" address at the March on Washington. Despite this legacy of powerful oratory, Dr. King was not immune to allegations of plagiarism during his lifetime. In 1990, decades after the fact, it came to light that portions of the famed speech had been taken almost verbatim from an earlier sermon by Baptist minister Archibald Carey Jr., delivered at a 1952 conference sponsored by Ebenezer Baptist Church and Morehouse College. Though no charges were ever brought against him, and many argue that any borrowing was unintentional due to similar themes in both men's works, these revelations have undoubtedly tarnished some of the luster surrounding one of America's most iconic leaders, profoundly affecting how he is remembered today.
In addition to being criticized for lifting others' words without credit, Martin Luther King Jr.'s writings have also come under fire posthumously. Several passages featured throughout his 1964 book Why We Can't Wait were found to be strikingly similar to those written in The Measurement Of Man by sociologist Eugene Pessen a year prior — leading scholars such as Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David J Garrow to argue that Dr. King may have engaged in deliberate acts of plagiarism throughout his career rather than simply failing to attribute sources as previously assumed correctly.

J. K. Rowling

Martin Luther King Jr. is a towering figure in civil rights history, remembered for delivering stirring speeches such as his famous "I Have A Dream" address at the March on Washington. Despite this legacy of powerful oratory, Dr. King was not immune to allegations of plagiarism during his lifetime. In 1990, decades after the fact, it came to light that portions of the famed speech had been taken almost verbatim from an earlier sermon by Baptist minister Archibald Carey Jr., delivered at a 1952 conference sponsored by Ebenezer Baptist Church and Morehouse College. Though no charges were ever brought against him, and many argue that any borrowing was unintentional due to similar themes in both men's works, these revelations have undoubtedly tarnished some of the luster surrounding one of America's most iconic leaders, profoundly affecting how he is remembered today.

In addition to being criticized for lifting others' words without credit, Martin Luther King Jr.'s writings have also come under fire posthumously. Several passages featured throughout his 1964 book Why We Can't Wait were found to be strikingly similar to those written in The Measurement Of Man by sociologist Eugene Pessen a year prior — leading scholars such as Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David J Garrow to argue that Dr. King may have engaged in deliberate acts of plagiarism throughout his career rather than simply failing to attribute sources as previously assumed correctly.

Thomas Stearns Eliot

T. S. Eliot is a figure whose name has become synonymous with modernism and poetry, remembered for works such as The Waste Land and Four Quartets — both of which are still widely studied and discussed by scholars today. But despite his immense literary contributions, Eliot's work has been subject to plagiarism allegations over the years, most notably in 2015 when it was discovered that parts of his 1920 poem "The Love Song Of J Alfred Prufrock" had been lifted from an earlier text by American author John Adkins Richardson without proper credit or attribution given to its source.
Though much of the controversy surrounding this incident stemmed from a lack of awareness or acknowledgment on Eliot's part (likely because he wrote some of his earliest poems while still in college), many have viewed this discovery as further proof that even great minds can fall prey to plagiarism if they fail to properly cite their sources — something which remains valid for writers everywhere regardless of age or experience level. Despite these facts, however, T S Eliot continues to be seen by many as one of the greatest poets in English language history — a legacy that will undoubtedly outlast any accusations leveled against him now or in years past.

Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie is a writer whose work has been celebrated and condemned worldwide. Born in India, his works of fiction, such as Midnight's Children and The Satanic Verses, have broken new ground in terms of South Asian literature while also earning him numerous accolades, including the Booker Prize. However, it was not until he published his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses that Rushdie would make headlines for all the wrong reasons. Upon its publication, a fatwa was issued by Iran's then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini who called for Rushdie to be killed due to perceived blasphemy against Islam. This event quickly put him on the global stage in ways he could never have imagined.

Throughout this time, Salman Rushdie refused to back down or cower from these threats, instead choosing to continue writing and speaking out about issues surrounding freedom of expression despite being forced into hiding for over nine years after receiving death threats from religious extremists. This courage and resilience have since become synonymous with Rushdie himself, inspiring countless others throughout history who feel they, too, must stand up against injustice even when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds — making his story one that will always live within literary circles across the globe.


Despite copyright violations and plagiarism accusations, Joe Biden and Martin Luther King Jr. have each had an immense impact on politics and civil rights, respectively. J.K. Rowling has revolutionized Young Adult fiction with her Harry Potter series. In contrast, T.S Eliot's works of literature have elevated modernism in poetry to new heights that remain long after his death. Salman Rushdie's iconic work from the late 20th century brought attention to issues faced by those living in oppressive countries, which still resonates today. To avoid public diminishing you can always use plagiarism checker.
Better check than regret!
Text author: Columbia Proof

January 6th 2023


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