The Museum of Hoaxes
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Eras: 0-1699 1700s 1800-1868 1869-1913 1914-1949 1950-1976 1977-1989 1990s 2000s
The Hoax Archive — A collection of the most notorious deceptions throughout history
Fictitious Persons
Lafayette Mulligan, 1924. In 1924 a man calling himself Lafayette Mulligan presented the Prince of Wales with the key to the City of Boston, while the Prince was vacationing in Massachusetts. However, the Mayor of Boston had no idea who Lafayette Mulligan was. In fact, Lafayette Mulligan was not a real person at all. Continue…
Hugo N. Frye, 1930. In 1930 Republican leaders throughout the United States received letters inviting them to a May 26 party at Cornell University in honor of the sesquicentennial birthday anniversary of Hugo Norris Frye, aka Hugo N. Frye. The letter explained that Hugo N. Frye had been one of the first organizers of the Republican party in New York State. None of the politicians could make it to the event, but almost all of them replied, expressing sincere... Continue…
Ern Malley, 1944. The 1944 cover of Angry Penguins devoted to the work of Ern MalleyMax Harris was a glamorous young Australian poet who was making a reputation for himself as something of a rebel as editor of Angry Penguins, a cutting-edge literary magazine. Harris wanted to shake up the artistic community by exposing it to new ideas and new writers, and in 1944 he thought he had found a writer worth taking under his wing. That writer's name was Ern Malley. Continue…
Emile Coudé, 1957. Emile CoudéThe Coudé Catheter is a catheter with a curved tip, used in urology to facilitate insertion of the catheter tube through the urethra into the bladder. The Winter 1957 edition of The Leech, the journal of the students' society of the Welsh National School of Medicine at Cardiff, contained a brief biography of the Coudé Catheter's alleged inventor, Emile Coudé. According to the article, Coudé... Continue…
Jane Somers (aka Doris Lessing), 1983. In 1983 the novel The Diary of a Good Neighbor was published in Great Britain and the United States. It told the story of a successful middle-aged magazine editor who befriends a lonely old woman. The cover identified the author as Jane Somers, a name that was said to be the pseudonym of a "well-known English woman journalist." The book received little critical attention, and had only modest sales. Approximately 1500 copies sold in the UK and... Continue…
Sidd Finch, 1985. Sidd Finch In its April 1985 edition, Sports Illustrated published an article by George Plimpton that described an incredible rookie baseball player who was training at the Mets camp in St. Petersburg, Florida. The player was named Sidd Finch (Sidd being short for Siddhartha, the Indian mystic in Hermann Hesse's book of the same name). He could reportedly pitch a baseball at 168 mph with pinpoint accuracy. The fastest previous recorded speed for... Continue…
Allegra Coleman, 1996. Esquire magazine's November 1996 cover featured Allegra Coleman, said to be a hot new star taking Hollywood by storm. "Forget Gwyneth, Forget Mira," the cover declared. "Here's Hollywood's next Dream Girl." The feature article inside described the buzz building around her. David Schwimmer, star of Friends, was said to be her on-again, off-again boyfriend, although he was getting some competition from Quentin Tarantino who had apparently dumped... Continue…
Professor Trevor L. Montgomery and his Theoretical Beaver. The 2001 Spring line-up at Cornell University's prestigious series of psychology lectures included a talk by Professor Trevor L Montgomery. The CV Montgomery sent Cornell in anticipation of the talk advertised that he had "developed a neo-Husserlian critique of the conceptual failings of contemporary consciousness theory." It went on: In order to gnaw through this Husserlian 'logjam' in the flow of (un)consciousness science, Dr Montgomery has... Continue…
Kaycee Nicole Swenson, 2001. Kaycee Nicole was a nineteen-year-old girl from Kansas dying of cancer. Or so believed the thousands of people who visited her website on which she kept a diary of her fight against leukemia. For over a year Kaycee Nicole had added updates to her diary, letting people know about the ups and downs of her struggle with the disease, about her hope as the cancer went into remission, and about her fear as it reappeared. Kaycee's mother, Debbie,... Continue…
Dave Manning, 2001. No matter how bad the movies of Columbia Pictures were, there was always one reviewer sure to heap praise on them — David Manning of the Ridgefield Press. For instance, while other reviewers skewered Hollow Man, Manning declared it, "One helluva scary ride! The summer's best special effects." The sophomoric comedy The Animal impressed him as "another winner," and he singled out Heath Ledger of A Knight's Tale as "this year's hottest new... Continue…

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  • All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.