54 Berners Street, London. This is the location of one of the world’s most famous hoaxes.
The Berners Street Hoax was a famous hoax perpetrated by writer and humorist Theodore Hook here in 1810. Hook had bet his friend Samuel Beazley a guinea that he could transform any house in London into the most talked-about address in a week.
On November 10 at nine o’clock in the morning, Mrs. Tottenham, the occupant of this house began receiving a large number of deliveries and visitors. Various trades people arrived claiming that they had been summoned to her house by letter. Dignitaries, including the Governor of the Bank of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Mayor of London also arrived. So many people crowded into the narrow street that fights broke out.
Hook had sent out thousands of letters purporting to be Mrs. Tottenham and requesting deliveries, visitors and assistance. He was soon revealed as the instigator of the prank.
Theodore Hook, the forgotten genius of the English language. He founded, and wrote anonymously, the brilliantly satirical John Bull newspaper which directly influenced British history. Hook created the style of political satire which has lasted to the present.
He was the only ‘improvisatore’ whom the English language has known, instantly composing witty songs on any subject. He was England’s best-selling novelist immediately before Charles Dickens.
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