Hoax Archive: Time Periods
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Literary Hoaxes (1869-1913)
Leonainie, 1877 (August 1877)Under the heading "Posthumous Poetry," Indiana's Kokomo Dispatch published a poem titled "Leonainie" on August 3, 1877. It was an unremarkable poem except in one way. The editor of the Dispatch, John Henderson, claimed it was a previously unpublished poem by Edgar Allan Poe. (Click here to read the poem.)
The publication of this poem generated excitement among fans and scholars of Poe, and within a few weeks it had been reprinted in major papers throughout the United States. But in reality it was not a poem by Poe. Its true author was a struggling young Indiana poet, James Whitcomb Riley. More→
Milton Rejected (1887)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 offered to publish it, but only if the author contributed thirty pounds toward the expenses.
The literary aspirant (whose name is not known) published the results of his experiment in a letter sent to the St. James's Gazette.
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