Lee Israel has a problem.
At one point in her life, she was a successful author, writing biographies of famous women like the actress Tallulah Bankhead. She was even on the New York Times Bestseller list.
But that was years ago. Now, she can’t find work and is behind on her rent. The only friend she has is her ailing cat, and nobody will return her phone calls. As far as Lee is concerned, the fact she is now living in poverty and unemployed is a disgrace.
Her longtime agent, though, is less confused about why Lee has been snubbed by the literary world–just because she wrote a bestseller doesn’t mean she’s famous, her proposed new book subject is unmarketable, and Lee herself is just thoroughly unpleasant to deal with. Nobody wants to work with her.
Her agent advises her to seek a different line of work. And that’s just what Lee does. She starts forging letters from famous, deceased authors and selling them to collectors and antique dealers. Needless to say, complications ensue.