As a closet conspiracy theorist I enjoy reading stories that have been put to good use. Sometimes stories create a 'real' situation by accident rather like the panic caused by the radio broadcast of H G Wells story War of the Worlds. On the other hand there are stories created from real life situations to serve a specific purpose rather like the one below.
The Texas Roswell
People in Dallas read in their newspaper on 19/04/1897 that"A Windmill Demolishes it" which was written by S E Haydon.
Two days before at 06:00 an airship had fallen into the town of Aurora. "It had flown over the town square," Haydon explained, "and when it reached the north part of the town collided with the tower of Judge Proctor's windmill and went to pieces in a terrific explosion."
However, the real surprise was in the wreckage. The dead pilot was badly burned, but it was clear "that he was not an inhabitant of this world". Indeed, "Mr T J Weems, the US signal service officer at this place, and an authority on astronomy, gives it as his opinion that he was a native of the planet Mars".
The truth was that at that time Aurora was in trouble in the late 1890s. Boll weevils had destroyed the town's cotton crop, while residents had been the victims of a huge fire and some had developed spotted fever. Above all plans for a rail link with Dallas had been shelved.
"The town was dying," one resident recalled years later. So Haydon decided to get them a little publicity!
So what other tales have fooled the media over the years?
The Cottingley Fairies 1917
The Cottingley Fairies are a series of five photographs taken by Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, two young cousins living in Cottingley, near Bradford, England, depicting the pair interacting with fairies. When Mr. Wright, upon developing the plates, saw fairies in the pictures, he considered them fake. After the taking of the second picture, he banned Elsie from using the camera again. Her mother, Polly, however was convinced of their authenticity.
In the summer of 1919, the matter became public and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (author of Sherlock Holmes) wrote an article for a leading magazine claiming that they were authentic. However in the early 1980s the sisters who took the photographs admitted that the first four pictures were fakes.
Speaking of the first photograph in particular, Frances has said: “I don’t see how people could believe they’re real fairies. I could see the backs of them and the hatpins when the photo was being taken.”
Both of the girls claimed, right up to their deaths, that the fifth photo was, in fact, authentic
There are in fact myriads of tales like Piltdown Man, The Fijian Mermaid and the Cardiff Giant (New York). The April Fool stories will be assaulting our senses in the next week or so but the common denominator in all of the above is the impressive level of creativity. I love words and writing but I also enjoy the reading and learning experience so if you have similar tastes the write, long short, poetry or prose, whichever you prefer. Backing that need to write was author Emma Donoghue.
Emma Donoghue is a successful published author whose latest book Room has been nominated for dozens of awards and is to be made into a film. But it wasn't always so. She stated on TV this morning that some books will sell one or two copies and others thousands but if you are a writer you will go on producing works. The bottom line being that she'd written because she loved the exercise.