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I am Punked from beyond the grave,

Or how I was disabused of a dearly held notion.
I'm not a credulous person. I could smell a rat about the "Hitler DIaries" and tabletop fusion, remember that? I know that a memoir is part truth part embellishment and good editing. Who wants to read "Went to store, forgot wallet. Had a sandwich and sat on the sofa paid some bills". Fasinating. (Well maybe in two hundred years, "they had wallets back then?") Recently I was talking with my good friend A--- while she was at work and the conversation strayed to the 18th century diary (You can take the girl out of the English major...) well really the 18th century popular novel and we lamented what hard going they usally are, so full of edifiing virtue in the face of terrible tempations and they do go on and on. I mentioned that I had read a great diary lively, funny, well paced, not like an 18th century diary at all. It was by Cleone Knox a young woman of the landed Irish gentry, her supposed attachment to a Mr. Ancaster and her travels through Europe to separate them. Edited by a distant relation in the early 20th century and published by the family with some omissions in deference to the sensiblities of the time.

I'm waxing poetical and A--- stops me with "It's a hoax". She was looking it up on the internet as I spoke and found out that it was the creation of a young writer in the 1920's. Magdalen King-Hall, who at a seaside resort found herself with nothing to do but watch elderly matorns being wheeled around in chairs and decided to amuse herself. I love this diary, it's complelety charming and I thought it was true. Apparently so did most people in the 20's when it was published, including critics who hailed it as an important discovery. Let me add that the copy I have is a reprint from the 1960's which in no way gives away the joke. The reader takes it at face value. I have to say I like it even better now, after I got over the initial disappointment. Bully for her! It still works.


The book in question is:
(King-Hall, Magdalene). The Diary of a Young Lady of Fashion in the Year 1764-1765. New York; D. Appleton & Company: 1926."