Hoaxes & Pranks

The West Australian (Perth, WA)
Date: April 10, 1937
Page Number: 18

A crank of English letters who achieved a considerable notoriety in his day and generation, although at the present time his name and more or less honourable distinctions are com pletely forgotten, was George Psalm- anasar, who towards the end of his chequered life, when he had become a bookseller's hack of much industry, was proclaimed by Dr. Johnson as "the best man he had ever known." His great "Universal History" was certainly a masterly piece of imposture, which genuinely deceived a public unused to the amenities of world travel in ocean liners replete with all the unnecessary adjuncts appertaining to modern civilisation. More especially was Psalmanazar's "Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa, an Island subject to the Emperor of Japan," a remarkable piece of imaginative romanticism. Another master-stroke was the author's dedication of his book to Dr. Compton, Bishop of London, whose ideas of Formosa and its inhabitants must have been decidedly on the nebulous side. Psalmanazar, who can justly claim to have been one of the earliest of English realists, put a finishing touch to his geographical achievement by eating his meat raw, and without adopting the ridiculous European expedient of a knife and fork, when dining with the secretary of the Royal Society. It is sad to relate that all his ingenuity of literary invention profited Psalmanazar only to the illiberal extent of 22; but what he lacked in financial reward may possibly have been balanced in his estimation by the reputation he acquired as a world wide and intrepid traveller.


Hoaxes & Pranks
George Psalmanazar, 1704
Full article.

The West Australian (Perth, WA)
Date: February 25, 1950
Page Number: 22
ONE of the most impressive hoaxes of history was perpetrated in London In 1704 by a French adventurer known as "George Psalmanasar." Posing as an educated native of Formosa, which neither he nor any Englishman had ever visited, the impostor ingenlously invented and wrote several books about his countrys strange language, religion, manners, customs, geography and history. So complete and convincing were these works that Psalmanazar was accepted and lionised by British society until he revealed the deception nearly 30 years later. The books had created such faith in the man that few of his contemporaries believed his confession.

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George Psalmanazar