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
Rejected Classics
Milton Rejected. In 1887 a "disappointed literary aspirant," hoping to illustrate the ignorance of publishers and the diffulties faced by unknown authors, copied out the text of Milton's drama "Samson Agonistes," retitled it "Like a Giant Refreshed," and sent it as an original work of his own to publishers and editors. None recognized the work. One rejected it because it was too like a sensational novel. Another said it was "disfigured by Scotticisms." A third... Continue…
The Steps Experiment, 1975. Artwork accompanying Ross's 1979 article describing the Steps Experiment. In 1975 Chuck Ross was selling cable TV door-to-door, and dreaming of becoming a writer. However, he felt the odds were stacked against him since the publishing industry seemed incapable of recognizing talent. To prove his theory, he typed up twenty-one pages of a highly acclaimed book and sent it unsolicited to four publishers (Random House, Houghton Mifflin, Doubleday,... Continue…
Casablanca Rejected, 1982. Too much dialogue, not enough exposition, weak story line Casablanca is arguably the most famous movie in the history of film. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1943, and was voted as one of the top three American films ever made by the American Film Institute. It's a movie that everyone in the film industry should instantly be able to recognize. But in 1982 freelance writer Chuck Ross asked himself this question: Would contemporary... 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…
The Claire Chazal Experiment. Claire Chazal Claire Chazal was a well-known newswoman who presented the evening news on France's TF1 network. Like many French celebrities, she had decided to write a novel. She titled it L'Institutrice (The Primary School Teacher). It was published in 1997 by Plon and became a bestseller. In 2000, the editors of Voici magazine, a weekly tabloid, decided to use her novel to prove that the success of novels by celebrities has little to do with... Continue…

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