The Century of Deception: The Birth of the Hoax in Eighteenth Century England
In 1749, a newspaper advertisement appeared declaring that a man would climb inside a bottle on the stage of a London theatre. Although the crowds turned up in their hundreds to witness the trick, the performer didn't. Over the following decades, elaborate jokes and fanciful tales would continue to bamboozle people across England.
In The Century of Deception, magician and historian Ian Keable tells the engrossing stories of these eighteenth-century hoaxes and those who were duped by them. The English public were hoodwinked time and time again, swallowing whole tales of rapping ghosts, a woman who gave birth to rabbits, a levitating Frenchman in a Chinese Temple and outrageous astrological predictions. Not only were the hoaxes widely influential, drawing in celebrities such as Samuel Johnson, Benjamin Franklin and Jonathan Swift, they also inflamed concerns about 'English credulity'.'Fake news', 'going viral' and 'social media' may be modern terms, but as this entertaining, eye-opening book shows, these concepts have been with us for centuries.
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