Almanac – August 25

1770 – The body of the poet Thomas Chatterton found in his garret room in London, he’d committed suicide by taking arsenic, aged 17.  Or he may have been trying a home-cure for VD. Either way,  he was dead.

His main contribution to the literary canon was a series of pseudo-archaic poems that he attributed to the 15th-century monk Thomas Rowley, which were judged to have genuine merit in their own right, even after being exposed as forgeries [did anyone consider that he may have been channelling the spirit of Rowley ?].

He became a hero of Romanticism; Wordsworth described him as “the sleepless soul that perished in his pride”,  Keats dedicated his poem Endymion to his memory, and Shelley paid tribute to him in Adonais. Considering that these last two weren’t publish until around half-a-century after Chatterton’s death, that’s quite an enduring impression he  made… probably more than any other teenage poet committing suicide in their bedroom has ever achieved.

1835The New York Sun started  the Great Moon Hoax  – a series of six articles that were published about the supposed discovery of life and even civilization on the Moon. The discoveries were falsely attributed to Sir John Herschel, perhaps the best-known astronomer of his time.


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