August 25, 1835
The Sun runs the first of a series of articles describing a fantastical civilization on the moon
The articles, later called The Great Moon Hoax, claimed famed astronomer John Hershel had made the great discovery with a technologically superior telescope. The moon, it was claimed, had a variety of flora and fauna including bison, unicorns, beaver-like creatures with no tails who walked on two legs, and humanoids with bat-like wings. The articles also described temples, lavish jungles, oceans with beaches, and more. The series ended when the fictional version of Hershel met with misfortune as his telescope lens focused sunlight into his observatory, destroying telescope.
Though the hoax was discovered several weeks from the initial printing, the newspaper never issued a retraction. Hershel found his role in the hoax amusing, though he quickly tired of people asking if the moon world was real. Edgar Allan Poe alleged the work was plagiarized from one of his stories, stolen by his editor is attributed as author of the hoax, though nothing aside from bitterness on Poe’s part came of the allegation.
More horrific history from today:
1924: Scars self to dissuade attention (2017)
1955: Child beaten with hammer for singing (2017)
1998: Tortured, murdered by lover and her friends and family (2017)
1993: Convicted murderer of five, including two children, is executed (2018)
Today in Horror History: August 25