Misha Defonseca’s supposedly remarkable story of survival as a child in a continent ravaged by World War II turned many heads back when her memoir was published. But Misha’s claims of being a Jewish child escaping from Nazi-occupied Belgium back in the early 1940s turned out to be false, leading to a tremendous amount of backlash that affected her publisher, Jane Daniel. Netflix’s ‘Misha and the Wolves’ delves into these developments and has Jane talk about her research into Misha’s claims. So, are you wondering what has happened to Jane since then? Here’s what we know!
Who is Jane Daniel?
Jane forayed into the world of marketing after self-publishing a book she had written with a lawyer from Boston, Massachusetts. When she realized that publishing was a profitable industry, she set up Mount Ivy Press in 1993. Jane was separated from her partner and had two children when she came across Misha through her job in public relations for another company. At the time, she had been living in Newton, England. As the two started talking, Jane felt that Misha’s life was quite interesting and wanted her to write it as a book.
Misha put it off for a while before agreeing to it. Jane said of the initial offer, “First she said it would be very painful, and then she said she would like to do it for her son.” So, Jane offered Misha a deal in 1995 that guaranteed her royalties from sales, movie rights, and foreign rights for the book. Jane roped in her friend and neighbor, Vera Lee, to help write the book and a manuscript was ready by 1996. But questions regarding Misha’s claims remained. Misha said that she spent time with a pack of wolves in the forests and even stabbed a German soldier to death. A historian, Deborah Dwork, urged Jane not to publish the book because she felt that it read more like a fantasy.
But the book went ahead as planned. There was interest from Disney in making a movie, and a segment on ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ was supposed to feature Misha, but neither came to fruition. After the book was released, Misha and Vera sued Jane for breach of contract. They claimed that Jane had funneled royalty money into offshore accounts and didn’t pay them what they were owed. Jane said that they were for tax purposes. Regardless, a judge ordered Jane to pay damages totaling more than $30 million to Misha and Vera.
Sometime in 2006, Jane uncovered some court records where Misha entered her date of birth and her mother’s maiden name, which was at odds with what she claimed in the book. She started a blog in August 2007, publishing all of her findings. In December 2007, Sharon Sergeant, a genealogist, contacted Jane and wanted to help her with the case. Sharon uncovered some damning information with the help of a Belgian genealogist, Evelyne Haendel. They found proof that Misha was not Jewish but Catholic, and found records of her enrolled in a school in Brussels, Belgium, around the time she claimed to have been traveling, searching for her parents. By 2008, Misha admitted that her story was a lie.
Where is Jane Daniel Now?
Jane faced bankruptcy and lost a substantial amount of money and property because of the court verdict. She said of Misha, “She left a wide swath of pain behind her not to say what she’s done to my life.” Jane also published ‘Bestseller! The $33 Million Verdict. The 20-year Hoax. The Truth Behind the Headlines,’ which is her version of the events that transpired in publishing Misha’s book. In 2014, the courts ordered Misha to pay Jane back. Jane later mentioned that she dealt with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the trial. From what we can tell, Jane lives in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, and has sought to move on with her life after the incident.
Read More: Who Were Misha Defonseca’s Parents?