1938 saw one of the world’s most famous media hoaxes terrify a nation of unexpecting listeners when the original War of the Worlds radio broadcast was sent out across the airwaves unannounced, leading many to believe it to be a genuine news item. Somewhat more obscure is the tale of its precursor, when 103 years earlier in August of 1835, daily New York newspaper The Sun ran a week long series of articles concerning the discovery of life on the moon. The paper’s “Lunarians” were a bizarre species of temple building man-bats living in perfect harmony with the animals that surrounded them. It was a humbug to match the audacity from any of the exhibits in P.T. Barnum’s American Museum and as unbelievable as it may sound today, at the time there were many who firmly believed it, fueling debates that raged across all levels of society.
Goodman, Matthew (2008) The Sun and The Moon. Basic Books, NY, USA.
Adams Locke, Richard (1835) Great Astronomical Discoveries Lately Made By Sir John Herschel, LLD FRS &c At the Cape of Good Hope. New York Sun, NY, USA
Allen Poe, Edgar (1846) Some Honest Opinions at Random Respecting Their Autorial Merits, With Occasional Words of Personality. The Literati of New york City – Vol VI. USA.
Liverpool Mercury (1835) Alleged Discovery of Men, Animals, Vegetables Etc. In The Moon. Friday 25th September, 1835, p.8. Liverpool, UKHerschel, John F. W. (1834) A Treatise on Astronomy. Carey, Lea & Blanchard, London, UK.
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