My Sister Phyllis Pearsall Gross 

And the Meaning of Truth

For Americans and Others: 

What this Mini-Site Is All About,

In Two Paragraphs,

And Why It Matters 

To Everyone on the Planet...

Almost all Londoners own and swear by a city map and guide called the A-Z Atlas of London [Note]. Similar A-Z guides exist for other British cities. This has been true since 1936 when—at a time when both phones and mail were unreliable—my cartographer father Alexander Gross taught my half-sister Phyllis Pearsall Gross via cables from New York how to create the A-Z, based on a similar publication he had published in London 23  years earlier. Phyllis fully acknowledged our father's assistance while he was alive, but after his death in 1958 she replaced his name with her own on the A-Z. She also wrote and self-published two books gradually advancing the claim that she was the real sparkplug behind this guidebook.

In 2001 Simon and Schuster published a book purporting to be a biography of Phyllis—though in large measure "Chick Lit"—which added even more fictitious and melodramatic material to my sister's claims. During a time when the truth was sometimes overlooked in Britain—the age of Rupert Murdoch, foolish libel laws, and a deficient BBC—this version of the A-Z's origins became widely accepted. There is a tendency in all nations and cultures to accept whatever sounds like the most appealing version of all our histories, and this is what took place in England in recent years, though it could easily happen elsewhere as well even during our supposedly scientific age. This mini-website sets the record straight about the true origins of the A-Z Atlas and also bears witness to the recurring fallibility of human knowledge.

*Pronounced of course in the English manner as "A to Zed." [back to text]


This web page is Copyright © 2014
by Alexander Gross. It may be
reproduced for individuals and for
educational purposes only. It may
not be used for any commercial (i.e.,
money-making) purpose without
written permission from the author.


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