Macmillan Publishing Co. will announce today that it is canceling publication of "The Binghams of Louisville," a biography of the Kentucky newspaper dynasty that contains startling theories about the mysterious death of heiress Mary Flagler Bingham, which provided the family with its fortune.
Macmillan made its decision after the family, alarmed by the book's conclusions, copyrighted materials it had earlier given to a public archives and then sent the publisher eight pounds of documents challenging the book's accuracy.
The book, according to author David Chandler, suggests that Judge Robert Worth Bingham caused the death of his wife in 1917 by having her drugged with morphine and perhaps even by infecting her with syphilis. With the money he then inherited, Bingham bought The Louisville Courier-Journal.
In today's statement, Macmillan says it spent three months reviewing the "extensive documentation challenging many of the author's underlying factual premises" and engaging, according to sources, in a difficult internal debate.
The statement goes on to say, "This cancellation is not based upon legal considerations and is, in fact, contrary to Macmillan's own commercial interests."
Chandler now has the right to try to sell his book to another publisher. He was allowed to keep his advance.
Judge Bingham's son Barry Bingham Sr., who mounted the legal challenge, was unavailable for comment.