LOCKE, Richard Adams
(1800-1871)
   US journalist and editor, usually regarded as author of the famous "Moon Hoax". In 1835 several issues of the New York Sun carried articles purporting to describe the inhabitants of the MOON and their environs as observed by the distinguished astronomer Sir John Herschel (1792-1871) through a new, high-magnification telescope. It remainsunclear which of several variously titled chapbook versions of the original hoax is in fact the original edition. Title variations include Great Astronomical Discoveries Lately Made by Sir John Herschel at theCape of Good Hope and A Complete Account of the Late Discoveries in the Moon (both 1835 chap; under first title rev 1841; rev vt The Moon Hoax, or A Discovery that the Moon has a Vast Population of Human Beings 1859 US; vt The Great Moon Hoax of Richard Adams Locke 1886). The book has also been dubiously ascribed to Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, but the consensus is that the work was indeed RAL's. The effectiveness of the hoax was comparable to the reactions to Edgar Allan POE's "Balloon Hoax" (1844 New York Sun), which was purchased for the paper by RAL, then one of itseditors, and the Orson Welles broadcast of The WAR OF THE WORLDS (1938). The Moon Hoax, or A Discovery that the Moon has a Vast Population of HumanBeings (anth 1859; exp with new intro by Ormond Seavey 1975) presents the original text plus later material.
   JE
   See also: ASTRONOMY.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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