The Spurious Articles In Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography -- Some New Discoveries and Considerations
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Dobson, John Blythe
Dobson, John Blythe. "The Spurious Articles In Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography -- Some New Discoveries and Considerations." Biography, 16(4) (Fall 1993): 388-408. DOI: 10.1353/bio.2010.0511.
Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography, published in six volumes between 1887 and 1889, is one of the most comprehensive biographical dictionaries for the New World ever published. Unfortunately, some contributor was able to insert a number of entirely spurious articles, dealing with people who never existed. The incident is perhaps unique in the annals of literary hoaxes, as the only case in which such inventions have infected an encyclopedia.