The Abyssinian Princes Hoax of 1910 [Futility Closet #011]

Irish practical joker Horace de Vere Cole orchestrated his masterpiece in 1910: He dressed four friends as Abyssinian princes and inveigled a tour of a British battleship. One of the friends, improbably, was Virginia Woolf disguised in a false beard and turban (far left in above photo).

We’ll describe how the prank was inspired and follow the six through their tension-filled visit to the HMS Dreadnought. We’ll also examine the value of whistles to Benjamin Franklin and present the next Futility Closet Challenge.

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Hosted by Greg and Sharon Ross, Futility Closet is a celebration of the quirky and the curious, the thought-provoking and the simply amusing. This podcast is an audio companion to the popular website that catalogs more than 7,000 curiosities in history, language, mathematics, literature, philosophy, and art. In each episode we explore intriguing finds from our research, share listener contributions, and offer a contest in which listeners can match their wits.

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Published 11:05 am Mon, May 26, 2014

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Futility Closet is a collection of entertaining curiosities in history, literature, language, art, philosophy, and mathematics, designed to help you waste time as enjoyably as possible.

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