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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Literature/Language
Dobrica Cosic Doesn’t Win the Nobel Prize — Serbian media reported Thursday that one of their own countrymen, writer Dobrica Cosic, had won the Nobel Prize for Literature. However, he hadn't. Soon after, the Swedish Academy announced the real winner: Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer. The Serbian media reported Cosic as the winner because they had all received an email, seeming to come from the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences, announcing Cosic as the winner. The email linked to a website, nobelprizeliterature.org, that seemed…
Posted: Thu Oct 06, 2011.   Comments (0)

Bunga Bunga — The news from Italy is that Silvio Berlusconi has been engaging in some wild "Bunga Bunga" parties. Or so says a 17-year-old Moroccan belly dancer who attended one of these parties. No one is really sure what a Bunga Bunga party entails, except that Berlusconi apparently learned the practice from Muammar Kaddafi, and it has something to do with sex. On Slate.com, Brian Palmer explores the mystery of just what Bunga Bunga might be. The leading theory is that it derives from an old joke…
Posted: Wed Nov 17, 2010.   Comments (15)

Welsh road signs — The BBC reports that Welsh-language road signs mysteriously appeared on the Longthorpe Parkway in Cambridgeshire. They suspect it was the work of a practical joker. Presumably a Welsh practical joker.
Posted: Fri May 29, 2009.   Comments (2)

The Apple — A few months ago it was revealed that Herman Rosenblat had invented his story about how he met his wife while he was imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp, and she was a young girl from the nearby village who would give him apples through the fence. The revelation caused his book deal to be canceled. But Gawker reports that York House Press is now turning his tale into a book anyway... they're just clearly labeling it as fiction. And they paid someone else to write it. I…
Posted: Mon May 18, 2009.   Comments (8)


Smell of Books — Hoax Website: The smell of books aroma spray. "Now you can finally enjoy reading e-books without giving up the smell you love so much. With Smell of Books™ you can have the best of both worlds, the convenience of an e-book and the smell of your favorite paper book. Smell of Books™ is compatible with a wide range of e-reading devices and e-book formats and is 100% DRM-compatible. Whether you read your e-books on a Kindle or an iPhone using Stanza, Smell of Books™ will bring back that…
Posted: Tue Apr 07, 2009.   Comments (6)

Another fake Holocaust memoir — The Curse of Oprah Winfrey has struck again. The Curse is that anyone who appears on her show to tell about their painful yet inspiring personal history, later is revealed to be completely full of BS. People who make multiple appearances on her show are even more likely to be struck by the curse. The latest flap is that Herman Rosenblat and his wife, who claimed to have met when he was a child in the Buchenwald concentration camp and she was a town girl who would throw food over the…
Posted: Tue Dec 30, 2008.   Comments (37)

Better translator needed — Respected academic journal wants to decorate its cover with elegant classical Chinese poetry. Journal editors -- who can't read Chinese -- don't realize they're actually placing an ad for a brothel on the cover. Embarrassment and retraction of cover follows. The journal was the MaxPlanckForschung journal. The text apparently advertised "burlesque acts by pretty-as-jade housewives with hot bodies for the daytime visitor"... emphasizing their "enchanting and coquettish performance". The…
Posted: Wed Dec 10, 2008.   Comments (9)

Man names son “Carter Barack Obama Sealy” — A Broomfield, Colorado man got his name in the local newspaper for claiming he had named his new son Carter Barack Obama Sealy. He also said that his two other children were named Brooke Trout Sealy and Cooper John Elway Sealy. Supposedly he had a deal with his wife. She got to choose the kids' first names, and he got to choose their middle names. The children's grandmother spilled the beans on the father, notifying the paper that the names were not real. The guy's wife explained that…
Posted: Fri Nov 21, 2008.   Comments (5)

Longitude Hoax? — The story of the 18th-century contest (sponsored by the British government) to find a solution to the problem of how to determine longitude at sea has received much attention, mostly due to Dava Sobel's best-selling book about it. But Pat Rogers argues in the Times Literary Supplement that Sobel (and just about every other historian who has written about the subject) has fallen for a hoax. Specifically, all of these historians have described one Jeremy Thacker as an inventor who, early…
Posted: Tue Nov 18, 2008.   Comments (7)

Writers are skeptical of $250,000 prize — An article in SFGate.com describes how the owners of FieldReport.com devised what they thought was a sure-fire way to generate interest in their literary site. They decided to offer a "$250,000 prize for whichever short nonfiction piece received the highest ranking from the site's users by Jan. 1, 2009. A series of $1,000 qualifying prizes would be awarded in the months leading up to the quarter-million-dollar payout." Problem is, no one believed them. "We got this dead-face,…
Posted: Thu Sep 25, 2008.   Comments (1)

Ken Campbell and the Royal Dickens Company — Ken Campbell recently died at the age of 66. The Telegraph's obituary describes him as "an actor, writer and director of wilful eccentricity" who worked in experimental theater. However, he was perhaps best known for a hoax he pulled off in 1980, when he sent around letters announcing that the Royal Shakespeare Company was renaming itself the Royal Dickens Company. I couldn't find a good description of this hoax online (and, unfortunately, I've never gotten around to writing one up...…
Posted: Thu Sep 11, 2008.   Comments (6)

It’s Right-Sizing, not Down-Sizing — Media Agency Carat recently decided to lay off some of its employees. PowerPoint and Word documents somehow leaked out detailing how management planned to inform employees and clients of the decision. They offer an example of corporate b.s. at its finest. Details include: • The agency wasn't going to be down-sizing. Instead, the documents repeatedly described the moves as a "right-sizing" of the agency. • Clients were to be informed of the "staffing change" with this script: "Mary…
Posted: Thu Sep 11, 2008.   Comments (11)

Huge advance allows 93-year-old author to move into larger home — It's been the feel-good story in the news during the past few days: 93-year-old Lorna Page was living in a retirement home small apartment until she secured a large advance for her thriller, A Dangerous Weakness. Amazingly, it was her first book! The money has allowed her to buy a five-bedroom house, and she's invited some of her friends from the living in a retirement home to come live with her. But Ray Girvan of Apothecary's Drawer Weblog asks a good question. Where did this huge…
Posted: Tue Aug 12, 2008.   Comments (7)

Gays must leave the plane — Posted recently by Tobester in the Hoax Forum: I couldn't resist doing some research on this. Here's what I found. a) It's definitely an urban legend. b) I can't find any record of it ever appearing in the New York Times. c) The earliest mention of it I can find in print dates back to July 10, 2000, when it was discussed in the Sydney Morning Herald. Apparently, in a version circulating back then, they were identified as the source of the tale. They denied this, pointed out the…
Posted: Tue Jul 29, 2008.   Comments (6)

Hair of the Dog… or Lord Byron? — Female fans of Lord Byron would often send him locks of their hair. In return he would send them a lock of his own. But a new book claims that what Byron often sent was a lock of fur from his pet newfoundland dog Boatswain. From Times Online: John Murray VII, chairman of his family’s publishing house, which was founded in 1768 and worked with Byron, said the story had been passed down through the generations. Murray said the fans to whom Byron sent the hair would have been under the…
Posted: Sun Jun 22, 2008.   Comments (5)

How Knoop Became JT Leroy — Laura Albert created the character of JT Leroy, and wrote the books that appeared in his name. However, Albert's sister-in-law, Savannah Knoop, played the part of JT whenever he was required to make an appearance in real life. Now Knoop has authored an account of what it was like to play JT. It'll be published in October by Seven Stories Press. From the publisher's website: In January 2006, The New York Times unmasked Savannah Knoop as the face of the mysterious author JT LeRoy. A…
Posted: Mon Jun 02, 2008.   Comments (6)

Was Shakespeare a Jewish Woman? — There are many theories about the true identity of Shakespeare. A new one (at least, new to me) is that Shakespeare was actually a Jewish woman named Amelia Bassano Lanier. This argument is made by John Hudson, author of a forthcoming biography of Bassano (who was the first woman to publish a book of poetry in England). Haaretz reports: The theory rests largely on the circumstances of Bassano's life, which Hudson contends match, much better than William Shakespeare's did, the content…
Posted: Wed May 28, 2008.   Comments (11)

Milfs Appalled by Racy Books — Heraldnet.com (the newspaper of Snohomish County) recently ran this story: Mom appalled at racy books in store for teens at Alderwood mall By Scott Pesznecker Herald Writer LYNNWOOD -- Marci Milfs went to Urban Outfitters to find clothes for her teenage son. She was surprised to find sexually charged books that she believes have no place in a clothing store for teens and young adults. On one end of the spectrum was "Porn for Women," a photo book showing men doing housework. On the…
Posted: Tue May 06, 2008.   Comments (10)

It’s a cab, innit — Many British papers have reported the humorous story of a young woman who called the operator trying to order a cab, but instead had a cabinet delivered to her home. Her problem was too much Cockney, and too little Queen's English. From Ananova: the Londoner, 19, wanted a taxi to take her to Bristol airport, and first used the Cockney rhyming slang "Joe Baxi". When the operator told her she couldn't find anyone by that name, the teen replied: "It ain't a person, it's a cab, innit." The…
Posted: Tue Apr 15, 2008.   Comments (14)

Real Book, Fake Author — The novel Charm has already sold more than 100,000 copies. It debuted at No. 13 on the New York Times best-seller list. However, its author, Kendall Hart, isn't real. Hart is a character on the ABC soap opera "All My Children." As this NY Times article puts it: "It has Kendall’s name on the cover but the name of the actual writer is being kept secret." This is why writers get depressed. They work hard to produce good books, which end up in remainder bins. Meanwhile, people flock in…
Posted: Mon Apr 07, 2008.   Comments (8)

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