Meghan Markle has authored her first children’s book, The Bench, set to be published next month by Penguin Random House.
“The Bench started as a poem I wrote for my husband on Father’s Day, the month after Archie was born,” Markle said in a statement. “That poem became this story.”
“Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex’s first children’s book, The Bench, beautifully captures the special relationship between father and son, as seen through a mother’s eyes,” says the official description of The Bench.
This is your benchAn excerpt from The Bench by Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex
Where you’ll witness great joy.
From here you will rest
See the growth of our boy.
The 40-page book, aimed at children ages 3–7, is illustrated by Caldecott-winning artist Christian Robinson.
“Christian layered in beautiful and ethereal watercolor 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,” Markle said. “My hope is that The Bench resonates with every family, no matter the makeup, as much as it does with mine.”
Penguin Random House announced the book on Tuesday. But shortly after it was announced, people took to Twitter to criticize the book and accuse Markle of plagiarism, comparing her work to a 2018 children’s book called The Boy on the Bench.
“Before you run 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,” one user tweeted.
“I’ll wager a bet that Corrinne’s book is in Archie’s collection. That’s where her idea came from,” another user said according to Page Six, in what appears to be a since-deleted tweet. “I don’t believe that this is all her own thinking or reflects her idyllic life whatsoever.”
But besides sharing a bench on the cover and in their titles, the two books appear completely unrelated.
The official description for The Boy on the Bench by author Corrine Averiss reads: “The playground is packed with children playing, but Tom is sitting on a bench with his dad. He’s just not sure he’s brave enough to join in… Tom can’t see a space for himself anywhere in the playground. Not on the slide, or on the roundabout or on the swings… But when a little girl loses her teddy, will Tom have the courage to help?”
Now, the author of The Boy on the Bench herself has taken to Twitter to defend Markle and dismiss claims of plagiarism.
“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,” Averiss wrote on Twitter. “I don’t see any similarities.”
Indeed, Averiss’s tale of playground shyness seems to have little in common with Markle’s book, which Penguin Random House says “captures the evolving and expanding relationship between fathers and sons and reminds us of the many ways that love can take shape and be expressed in a modern family.”
The Bench will be published on June 8 in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, India, and South Africa.