False document
A false document is a literary technique
Literary technique
A literary technique is any element or the entirety of elements a writer intentionally uses in the structure of their work...

 employed to create verisimilitude
Verisimilitude is the quality of realism in something .-Competing ideas:The problem of verisimilitude is the problem of articulating what it takes for one false theory to be closer to the truth than another false theory...

 in a work of fiction. By inventing and inserting documents that appear to be factual, an author tries to create a sense of authenticity beyond the normal and expected suspension of disbelief
Suspension of disbelief
Suspension of disbelief or "willing suspension of disbelief" is a formula for justifying the use of fantastic or non-realistic elements in literary works of fiction...

 for a work of art
Work of art
A work of art, artwork, art piece, or art object is an aesthetic item or artistic creation.The term "a work of art" can apply to:*an example of fine art, such as a painting or sculpture*a fine work of architecture or landscape design...

. The goal of a false document is to fool an audience into thinking that what is being presented is actually a fact.

In practice, false document effects can be achieved in many ways, including use of faked police reports, newspaper articles, bibliographical references, documentary footage or using the legal names of performers or writers in a fictional context. The effect can be extended outside of the confines of a text by supplementary material such as badges, I.D. cards, diaries, letters or other artifacts.

By intentionally blurring boundaries between fiction and fact, false documents present complex and perhaps insoluble ethical questions. In some cases, the difference between a great artistic achievement and a stunning forgery is slim. Sometimes the false document technique can be the subject of a work instead of its technique, though these two approaches are not mutually exclusive as many texts which engage falseness do so both on the literal and the thematic level.

A false document is usually created simply as an artistic exercise, but occasionally is promoted in conjunction with a criminal enterprise like fraud
In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation...

, forgery
Forgery is the process of making, adapting, or imitating objects, statistics, or documents with the intent to deceive. Copies, studio replicas, and reproductions are not considered forgeries, though they may later become forgeries through knowing and willful misrepresentations. Forging money or...

, or a confidence game. A false document should not be confused with a mockumentary
A mockumentary , is a type of film or television show in which fictitious events are presented in documentary format. These productions are often used to analyze or comment on current events and issues by using a fictitious setting, or to parody the documentary form itself...

, an admittedly fictional film
Fictional film
Fictional film or narrative film is film that tells a fictional story or narrative. Narrative cinema is usually contrasted to films that present information, such as a nature documentary, as well as to some experimental films...

 presented in the manner of a documentary
Documentary film
Documentary films constitute a broad category of nonfictional motion pictures intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record...


Origin of the technique

One of the earliest examples of the technique is the 16th century chivalric romance Amadis of Gaul
Amadis de Gaula
Amadis de Gaula is a landmark work among the knight-errantry tales which were in vogue in 16th century Iberian Peninsula, and formed the earliest reading of many Renaissance and Baroque writers, although it was written at the onset of the 14th century.The first known printed edition was published...

(1508, Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo
Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo
Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo was a Spanish author who arranged the modern version of the chivalric romance Amadis of Gaul, written in three books in the 14th century by an unknown author...


In film

The semidocumentary
Semidocumentary is a form of book, film, or television program presenting a fictional story that incorporates many factual details or actual events, or which is presented in a manner similar to a documentary...

 film making technique popularized in the 1950s used documentary techniques.

The 1973 film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a 1974 American independent horror film directed and produced by Tobe Hooper, who cowrote it with Kim Henkel. It stars Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow, and Gunnar Hansen, who respectively portray Sally Hardesty, Franklin Hardesty, the...

(along with the 2003 remake) claims to be based on true events, but this is not the case. It is in reality only loosely inspired by crimes committed by serial killer Ed Gein
Ed Gein
Edward Theodore "Ed" Gein - July 26, 1984) was an American murderer and body snatcher. His crimes, committed around his hometown of Plainfield, Wisconsin, gathered widespread notoriety after authorities discovered Gein had exhumed corpses from local graveyards and fashioned trophies and keepsakes...


The 1974 film Macon County Line
Macon County Line
Macon County Line was a very successful independently financed movie, made in 1974. It can be called a road movie and more specifically it falls in the "redneck nightmare" genre.-Plot:...

claims to be true but it is in fact fiction.

The 1978 British comedy film The Rutles
The Rutles
The Rutles are a band that are known for their visual and aural pastiches and parodies of The Beatles. Originally created by Eric Idle and Neil Innes as a fictional band to be featured as part of various 1970s television programming, the group recorded, toured, and released two UK chart hits in...

was done in the style of rock documentary
A documentary is a creative work of non-fiction, including:* Documentary film, including television* Radio documentary* Documentary photographyRelated terms include:...

 which treated the fake band The Rutles as if they were a real band. It included mock ups of album covers and other ephemera as well as fake videos. It also included figures such as Mick Jagger
Mick Jagger
Sir Michael Philip "Mick" Jagger is an English musician, singer and songwriter, best known as the lead vocalist and a founding member of The Rolling Stones....

, and Paul Simon
Paul Simon
Paul Frederic Simon is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist.Simon is best known for his success, beginning in 1965, as part of the duo Simon & Garfunkel, with musical partner Art Garfunkel. Simon wrote most of the pair's songs, including three that reached number one on the US singles...

 as themselves, although it also included other members of The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones are an English rock band, formed in London in April 1962 by Brian Jones , Ian Stewart , Mick Jagger , and Keith Richards . Bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts completed the early line-up...

 and The Beatles
The Beatles
The Beatles were an English rock band, active throughout the 1960s and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Formed in Liverpool, by 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon , Paul McCartney , George Harrison and Ringo Starr...

 playing various characters as well as numerous recognizable comedy actors, so there was no real intent to fool the audience. The success of the project did however lead to the fictional group recording two hit records and perform live concerts. The film would start a genre of its own called mockumentary
A mockumentary , is a type of film or television show in which fictitious events are presented in documentary format. These productions are often used to analyze or comment on current events and issues by using a fictitious setting, or to parody the documentary form itself...

 and become hugely influential on later similar films such as This is Spinal Tap
This Is Spinal Tap
This Is Spinal Tap is an American 1984 rock musical mockumentary directed by Rob Reiner about the fictional heavy metal band Spinal Tap...

and Hard Core Logo
Hard Core Logo
Hard Core Logo is a 1996 Canadian mockumentary adapted by Noel Baker from the novel of the same name by author Michael Turner. Director Bruce McDonald illustrates the self-destruction of punk rock...


The 1982 Steve Martin
Steve Martin
Stephen Glenn "Steve" Martin is an American actor, comedian, writer, playwright, producer, musician and composer....

 comedy Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid
Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid
Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid is a 1982 comedy film directed by Carl Reiner and starring Steve Martin and Rachel Ward. It is both a parody of, and an homage to, film noir and the pulp detective movies of the 1940s....

was shot in black and white as a parody of a 1940s film noir
Film noir
Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood's classic film noir period is generally regarded as extending from the early 1940s to the late 1950s...

 and included footage of actors from the film noir era such as Humphrey Bogart
Humphrey Bogart
Humphrey DeForest Bogart was an American actor. He is widely regarded as a cultural icon.The American Film Institute ranked Bogart as the greatest male star in the history of American cinema....

, Burt Lancaster
Burt Lancaster
Burton Stephen "Burt" Lancaster was an American film actor noted for his athletic physique and distinctive smile...

, and others spliced in with the modern actors. The effect was crude however compared to the bigger budgeted Woody Allen
Woody Allen
Woody Allen is an American screenwriter, director, actor, comedian, jazz musician, author, and playwright. Allen's films draw heavily on literature, sexuality, philosophy, psychology, Jewish identity, and the history of cinema...

 film Zelig
Zelig is a 1983 American mockumentary film written and directed by Woody Allen, and starring Allen and Mia Farrow. Allen plays Zelig, a curiously nondescript enigma who is discovered for his remarkable ability to transform himself to resemble anyone he's near.The film was shot almost entirely in...

which was already being filmed.

The 1983 Woody Allen
Woody Allen
Woody Allen is an American screenwriter, director, actor, comedian, jazz musician, author, and playwright. Allen's films draw heavily on literature, sexuality, philosophy, psychology, Jewish identity, and the history of cinema...

 film Zelig
Zelig is a 1983 American mockumentary film written and directed by Woody Allen, and starring Allen and Mia Farrow. Allen plays Zelig, a curiously nondescript enigma who is discovered for his remarkable ability to transform himself to resemble anyone he's near.The film was shot almost entirely in...

was an elaborate mix of real newsreel footage from the 1930s and fake footage mixed together with fake interviews with real actors playing themselves as well as actors playing roles to tell the story of the Allen character and presented as a documentary. Although the film looks realistic the intent was not to actually fool the audience who would have been in on the joke.

The 1984 mockumentary This is Spinal Tap
This Is Spinal Tap
This Is Spinal Tap is an American 1984 rock musical mockumentary directed by Rob Reiner about the fictional heavy metal band Spinal Tap...

, a comedy based around a fictional 1970s rock band, was filmed in the style of a documentary and includes such details as fake album covers and historical videos done in the styles of the late 1960s and 1970s. The success of the film would later lead to actual recordings of the fictional band and concert tours plus press interviews, all done in character.

The 1987 movie Robocop
RoboCop is a 1987 American science fiction-action film directed by Paul Verhoeven. Set in a crime-ridden Detroit, Michigan in the near future, RoboCop centers on a police officer who is brutally murdered and subsequently re-created as a super-human cyborg known as "RoboCop"...

while in no way presented as fact, does include several fake television ads which have nothing to do with the rest of the movie but become a running gag.

The 1988 British made-for-TV movie More Bad News was another mocumentary about a rock band, in this case an incompetent heavy metal
Heavy metal music
Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the Midlands of the United Kingdom and the United States...

 band. It once again included appearances by real musician such as Ozzy Osbourne
Ozzy Osbourne
John Michael "Ozzy" Osbourne is an English vocalist, whose musical career has spanned over 40 years. Osbourne rose to prominence as lead singer of the pioneering English heavy metal band Black Sabbath, whose radically different, intentionally dark, harder sound helped spawn the heavy metal...

, The Scorpions
Scorpions (band)
Scorpions are a heavy metal/hard rock band from Hannover, Germany, formed in 1965 by guitarist Rudolf Schenker, who is the band's only constant member. They are known for their 1980s rock anthem "Rock You Like a Hurricane" and many singles, such as "No One Like You", "Send Me an Angel", "Still...

, Motorhead and Def Leppard
Def Leppard
Def Leppard are an English rock band formed in 1977 in Sheffield as part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement. Since 1992, the band have consisted of Joe Elliott , Rick Savage , Rick Allen , Phil Collen , and Vivian Campbell...

 playing themselves.

The 1992 mocumentary Bob Roberts
Bob Roberts
Bob Roberts is a 1992 film written and directed by Tim Robbins. It is a satirical mockumentary, chronicling the rise of Bob Roberts, a conservative politician who is a candidate for an upcoming United States Senate election...

was also a political mystery filmed as a fake documentary. This time there was no soundtrack album in spite of the importance of music in the film as the film's writer, director and star Tim Robbins
Tim Robbins
Timothy Francis "Tim" Robbins is an American actor, screenwriter, director, producer, activist and musician. He is the former longtime partner of actress Susan Sarandon...

 was concerned that the politically right wing content would be taken seriously and used by right wing politicians.

The 1994 Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks
Thomas Jeffrey "Tom" Hanks is an American actor, producer, writer, and director. Hanks worked in television and family-friendly comedies, gaining wide notice in 1988's Big, before achieving success as a dramatic actor in several notable roles, including Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia, the title...

 film Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump is a 1994 American epic comedy-drama romance film based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom. The film was directed by Robert Zemeckis, starring Tom Hanks, Robin Wright and Gary Sinise...

while not presented as a documentary of a real character, does contain several sequences that feature the Hanks character inserted into archival newsreel footage of John Kennedy, Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974...

, The Beatles
The Beatles
The Beatles were an English rock band, active throughout the 1960s and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Formed in Liverpool, by 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon , Paul McCartney , George Harrison and Ringo Starr...

, Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley
Elvis Aaron Presley was one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century. A cultural icon, he is widely known by the single name Elvis. He is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King"....

, The Apollo 11
Apollo 11
In early 1969, Bill Anders accepted a job with the National Space Council effective in August 1969 and announced his retirement as an astronaut. At that point Ken Mattingly was moved from the support crew into parallel training with Anders as backup Command Module Pilot in case Apollo 11 was...

 astronauts and others to realistic effect.

Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson
Sir Peter Robert Jackson, KNZM is a New Zealand film director, producer, actor, and screenwriter, known for his The Lord of the Rings film trilogy , adapted from the novel by J. R. R...

's 1995 film Forgotten Silver
Forgotten Silver
Forgotten Silver is a New Zealand film mockumentary that purports to tell the story of a pioneering New Zealand filmmaker. It was written and directed by Peter Jackson and Costa Botes, both of whom appear in the film in their roles as makers of the documentary.-Synopsis:Forgotten Silver purports...

was billed and introduced as a serious documentary, purporting to tell the story of 'forgotten' New Zealand filmmaker Colin McKenzie. A large portion of the viewing audience were fooled until the directors revealed they were "only joking".

A disclaimer before the 1996 film Fargo
Fargo (film)
Fargo is a 1996 American dark comedy-crime film produced, directed and written by brothers Joel and Ethan Coen. It stars Frances McDormand as a pregnant police chief who investigates a series of homicides, William H...

makes the claim that it is based on a true story, but this was repudiated by its creators, the Coen brothers
Coen Brothers
Joel David Coen and Ethan Jesse Coen known together professionally as the Coen brothers, are American filmmakers...

, saying that people would more readily believe something outlandish if told that it actually happened, per the "truth is stranger than fiction" idiom.

The 1996 Canadian film Hard Core Logo
Hard Core Logo
Hard Core Logo is a 1996 Canadian mockumentary adapted by Noel Baker from the novel of the same name by author Michael Turner. Director Bruce McDonald illustrates the self-destruction of punk rock...

, about a punk band was done in the style of a documentary and as part of the film's promotional campaign ads were placed in music magazines from fake music collectors claiming to be looking for albums from the band. In lieu of a proper soundtrack album the film makers instead produced an album called A Tribute to Hard Core Logo
A Tribute to Hard Core Logo
A Tribute to Hard Core Logo is a 1996 album, which was released as an unofficial soundtrack to Bruce McDonald's film Hard Core Logo.The film is a mockumentary about the reunion tour of a fictional Canadian punk rock band, Hard Core Logo...

which pretended to be a tribute album to the non-existent band. Ironically one of the bands on the album, The Headstones
The Headstones
Headstones are a Canadian hard rock band that began in the late 1980s in Kingston, Ontario and were active until 2003, subsequently reforming in 2011. The band consists of vocalist Hugh Dillon, guitarist Trent Carr, bassist Tim White, and drummer Dale Harrison...

 featured singer Hugh Dillon
Hugh Dillon
Hugh Dillon is a Canadian musician and actor.-Music career:Dillon was the lead singer for the Kingston hard rock band The Headstones from 1987 until 2003...

 who also starred in the movie as a singer of the fictional band. Even more ironically most of the bands who actually did appear as themselves in the movie, such as Art Bergman, The Modernettes and D.O.A. were not on the fake tribute. A proper soundtrack album would be released much later. The fictional band's music was done by a real band named Swamp Baby with vocals by Dillon. The film also features rock journalists and dj's as themselves.

When the 1999 film The Blair Witch Project
The Blair Witch Project
The Blair Witch Project is a 1999 American horror film pieced together from amateur footage. The film was produced by the Haxan Films production company. The film relates the story of three student filmmakers The Blair Witch Project is a 1999 American horror film pieced together from amateur...

was released, the extensive marketing campaign claimed it to be a real documentary, compiled from footage discovered abandoned in a forest. After the film's success a soundtrack album was produced which was supposed to be made up of music one of the characters had on her walkman
Walkman is a Sony brand tradename originally used for portable audio cassette, and now used to market Sony's portable audio and video players as well as a line of Sony Ericsson mobile phones...

 when she "disappeared", although the film itself has little music in it.

The 2000 comedy Best in Show
Best in Show (film)
Best in Show is a 2000 independent film that follows five entrants in a prestigious dog show. The film focuses on the slightly surreal interactions among the various owners and handlers as they travel to the show and compete. Much of the dialogue was improvised.Christopher Guest directed; he also...

made by some of the same actors from This is Spinal Tap was also done as a mockumentary, this time of various contestants at a fictional dog show.

The 2004 film C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America
C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America
C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America is a 2004 mockumentary directed by Kevin Willmott. It is a fictional "tongue-in-cheek" account of an alternate history, in which the Confederates won the American Civil War, establishing the new Confederate States of America...

is a political satire which explores issues of slavery and racism by assuming that the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 was won by the Confederacy
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

. The film is presented as a BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 television documentary which includes fake television ads for racist products which at the end of the movie are revealed to have been real at some point in the 20th century.

Like Hardcore Logo the 2005 Canadian film The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico
The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico
The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico is a Canadian mockumentary film, released in 2005. Written and directed by Michael Mabbott, the film stars Matt Murphy, a musician previously associated with the bands The Super Friendz and The Flashing Lights, as Guy Terrifico, a country singer releasing...

, about a country rock singer, was also done as a fake documentary with appearances by Kris Kristofferson
Kris Kristofferson
Kristoffer "Kris" Kristofferson is an American musician, actor, and writer. He is known for hits such as "Me and Bobby McGee", "For the Good Times", "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down", and "Help Me Make It Through the Night"...

, Ronnie Hawkins
Ronnie Hawkins
Ronald "Ronnie" Hawkins is a Juno Award-winning rockabilly musician whose career has spanned more than half a century. Though his career began in Arkansas, USA, where he'd been born and raised, it was in Ontario, Canada where he found success and settled for most of his life...

, Merle Haggard
Merle Haggard
Merle Ronald Haggard is an American country music singer, guitarist, fiddler, instrumentalist, and songwriter. Along with Buck Owens, Haggard and his band The Strangers helped create the Bakersfield sound, which is characterized by the unique twang of Fender Telecaster guitars, vocal harmonies,...

 and Levon Helm
Levon Helm
Mark Lavon "Levon" Helm , is an American rock multi-instrumentalist and actor who achieved fame as the drummer and frequent lead and backing vocalist for The Band....

 playing themselves. The film was also released with a soundtrack album which pretended to be a genuine album from the fictional singer. There was also a promotional campaign with magazine ads and posters which implied that the character was real.

The 2003 mocumentary A Mighty Wind
A Mighty Wind
A Mighty Wind is a 2003 mockumentary about a folk music reunion concert in which three folk bands must reunite for a television performance for the first time in decades. It was directed by Christopher Guest...

was made by most of the same people behind This is Spinal Tap and Best in Show and was also done as a documentary of three 1960s folk
The English word Folk is derived from a Germanic noun, *fulka meaning "people" or "army"...

 bands doing a reunion concert and contained song performances, one of which was nominated for an Academy Award.

The 2006 film The Death of a President was filmed in the style of a television documentary filmed years after the event to tell the story of the fictional assassination of U.S. President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 and the aftermath to realistic effect.

The 2007 film Grindhouse made by Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Jerome Tarantino is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer and actor. In the early 1990s, he began his career as an independent filmmaker with films employing nonlinear storylines and the aestheticization of violence...

 and Robert Rodriguez
Robert Rodriguez
Robert Anthony Rodríguez is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, editor and musician. He shoots and produces many of his films in his native Texas and Mexico. He has directed such films as Desperado, From Dusk till Dawn, The Faculty, Spy Kids, Sin City, Planet...

 is presented as a 1970s exploitation film double feature and included fake movie trailers made to look like those of the era. The illusion was further maintained by artificially aging the film's appearance. (Rodriguez later made movies based on the 'false' trailers.)

The 2007 bio drama What we do is secret
What We Do Is Secret
What We Do Is Secret is the title of a novel by Thorn Kief Hillsbery, published by Villard in 2005.What We Do Is Secret takes place in Los Angeles in 1981, six months after the death of Darby Crash . It is narrated by a gay street kid named Rockets Redglare, who knew Darby personally...

, about the punk band The Germs
The Germs
The Germs are an American punk rock band from Los Angeles, California, originally active from 1977 to 1980. The band's early lineup consisted of singer Darby Crash, guitarist Pat Smear, bassist Lorna Doom, and their most consistent drummer Don Bolles. Germs have since reformed in 2005 with Shane...

 is done in a partial documentary style with cast members addressing the camera as if being interviewed.

The 2008 film Cloverfield
Cloverfield is a 2008 American disaster-monster film directed by Matt Reeves, produced by J. J. Abrams and written by Drew Goddard.The film follows six young New Yorkers attending a going-away party on the night that a gigantic monster attacks the city...

purports to be video footage shot by witnesses of a monster attacking New York City and recovered by the US Army as evidence. It begins with a title screen claiming the footage was found in "US Site 447, formerly known as Central Park
Central Park
Central Park is a public park in the center of Manhattan in New York City, United States. The park initially opened in 1857, on of city-owned land. In 1858, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux won a design competition to improve and expand the park with a plan they entitled the Greensward Plan...

." However, the enormous scale of the disaster shown in the movie makes it impossible that viewers would consider the movie to be true.

The 2010 film I'm Still Here
I'm Still Here (film)
I'm Still Here is a 2010 mockumentary film directed by Casey Affleck, and written by Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix. The film purports to follow the life of Phoenix, from the announcement of his retirement from acting, through his transition into a career as a hip hop artist. Filming officially began...

was another mockumentary. This time with an actor, Joaquin Phoenix
Joaquin Phoenix
Joaquin Rafael Phoenix , formerly credited as Leaf Phoenix, is an American film actor. He was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and his family returned to the continental United States four years later...

, pretending to be starting a career as a rapper while apparently suffering a nervous breakdown. During the making of the film and subsequent promotion campaign Phoenix stayed in character including a notorious interview with David Letterman
David Letterman
David Michael Letterman is an American television host and comedian. He hosts the late night television talk show, Late Show with David Letterman, broadcast on CBS. Letterman has been a fixture on late night television since the 1982 debut of Late Night with David Letterman on NBC...

 and the film maker Casey Affleck
Casey Affleck
Caleb Casey McGuire Affleck-Boldt , better known as Casey Affleck, is an American actor and film director. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, he played supporting roles in mainstream hits like Good Will Hunting and Ocean's Eleven as well as in critically acclaimed independent films such as...

 maintained the ruse that the film was true, only later admitting that it was not.

In art

Orson Welles
Orson Welles
George Orson Welles , best known as Orson Welles, was an American film director, actor, theatre director, screenwriter, and producer, who worked extensively in film, theatre, television and radio...

' F for Fake
F for Fake
F for Fake is the last major film completed by Orson Welles, who directed, co-wrote, and starred in the film. Initially released in 1974, it focuses on Elmyr de Hory's recounting of his career as a professional art forger; de Hory's story serves as the backdrop for a fast-paced, meandering...

is a prime example of a film which is both about falsification
Falsification may refer to:* The act of disproving a proposition, hypothesis, or theory: see Falsifiability* Mathematical proof* Falsified evidence...

 (art forgery
Art forgery
Art forgery is the creation of works of art which are falsely attributed to other, usually more famous, artists. Art forgery can be extremely lucrative, but modern dating and analysis techniques have made the identification of forged artwork much simpler....

 and the journalism surrounding art forgery) as well as having falsified moments within the film. The movie follows the exploits of a famous art forger, his biographer Clifford Irving
Clifford Irving
Clifford Michael Irving is an American author of novels and works of nonfiction, but best known for using forged handwritten letters to convince his publisher into accepting a fake "autobiography" of reclusive businessman Howard Hughes in the early 1970s...

, and the subsequent fake autobiography
An autobiography is a book about the life of a person, written by that person.-Origin of the term:...

 of Howard Hughes
Howard Hughes
Howard Robard Hughes, Jr. was an American business magnate, investor, aviator, engineer, film producer, director, and philanthropist. He was one of the wealthiest people in the world...

 that Irving tries to publish. The issues of veracity and forgery are explored in the film while at the same time, Welles tricks the audience by incorporating fake bits of narrative alongside the documentary footage.

Another artist who has run afoul of the technique is the artist JSG Boggs
J. S. G. Boggs
J. S. G. Boggs was an American artist, best known for his hand-drawn, one-sided depictions of U.S. banknotes and his various "Boggs bills" he draws for use in his performances. He spends his "Boggs notes" only for their face value. If he draws a $100 bill, he exchanges it for $100 worth of goods...

, whose life and work have been extensively explored by author and journalist Lawrence Weschler
Lawrence Weschler
Lawrence Weschler is an author of works of creative nonfiction.A graduate of Cowell College of the University of California, Santa Cruz , Weschler was for over twenty years a staff writer at The New Yorker, where his work shuttled between political tragedies and cultural comedies...

. Boggs draws currency with exceptional care and accuracy, but he only ever draws one side. He then attempts to buy things with the piece of paper upon which he has drawn the currency. His goal is to pass each bill for its face value in common transactions. He buys lunch, clothes, and lodging in this manner, and after the transactions are complete his bills fetch many times their face value on the art market. Boggs does not make any money from the much larger art market value of his work, only from reselling the goods bought, the change and receipts and other such materials. He has been arrested in many countries, and there is much controversy surrounding his work.

Mostly, however, the technique is employed in more mundane ways that hark back to its nineteenth century origins. Whether a particular piece of art is a false document, or is using false documentary techniques in a central way, is of course arguable. Usually, the character and extent of the use is examined.

False documents, fakery and forgery

Documentary filmmaking, and other attempts at actual documentation, can wittingly and unwittingly participate in the form as its goals of authenticity are so closely aligned with direct false documentation (that is, in both cases there is an element of authenticity and an element of narrative fudging). In Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-American former professional bodybuilder, actor, businessman, investor, and politician. Schwarzenegger served as the 38th Governor of California from 2003 until 2011....

's Pumping Iron
Pumping Iron
Pumping Iron is a 1977 docudrama about the world of bodybuilding, focusing on the 1975 IFBB Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia competitions and the 100 days leading up to them. The film was inspired by a book of the same name, written by Charles Gaines and George Butler...

, for example, Arnold talks about how his father died in the months preceding a major body building competition. He uses this anecdote
An anecdote is a short and amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person. It may be as brief as the setting and provocation of a bon mot. An anecdote is always presented as based on a real incident involving actual persons, whether famous or not, usually in an identifiable place...

 to illustrate how important the final months before a competition are to a truly dedicated bodybuilder. He says that, though his father's funeral was set during the penultimate month, he did not attend because he could not be distracted from training. However, in the companion book it is revealed that at the time of printing, Arnold's father had not died. It does not say the story was a lie, it merely provides contrary evidence. Schwarzenegger was executive producer of both the film and the companion book. It has been theorized by Professor Sally Robinson that Schwarzenegger was intentionally undermining his own narrative, effectively creating a mildly self-deprecating re-examination of his own obsessions for perfection at any cost. In the end, whether Arnold intentionally fabricated the story for a desired effect is left to the audience (in interviews associated with the re-release of the film, he says he did).

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion

In the case of the text The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a fraudulent, antisemitic text purporting to describe a Jewish plan for achieving global domination. It was first published in Russia in 1903, translated into multiple languages, and disseminated internationally in the early part of the twentieth century...

there is a very interesting complexity. It is an alleged record which was published and printed for the first time in 1903. The alleged original manuscript has long since disappeared, and conflicting, and inconsistent, testimony and witness reports about it have been presented at the Berne Trial in 1934 and 1935. Nevertheless, it has been established that it was a fabrication created by the Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

's secret police
Secret police
Secret police are a police agency which operates in secrecy and beyond the law to protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime....

, the Okhrana. Furthermore, it has been established that a substantial portion of it was taken, without citation, from a 1864 satire on Napoleon III by one Maurice Joly
Maurice Joly
Maurice Joly was a French satirist and lawyer known for his work titled The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu, later used as a basis for The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.-Life:...

 (his French language work, The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu
The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu
The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu is a satirical book written by Maurice Joly, an attorney with political views that were conservative, monarchist, and legitimistic, which was first published in Geneva, Switzerland in 1864...

) - so that it also constitutes plagiarism
Plagiarism is defined in dictionaries as the "wrongful appropriation," "close imitation," or "purloining and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions," and the representation of them as one's own original work, but the notion remains problematic with nebulous...

. Nevertheless, it has been repeatedly reproduced, in typescript and printed form, by its often anonymous editors as an alleged authentic document taken or stolen from some vaguely identified Jewish and Masonic organization. As such, it was presented to Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 censors (1903, 1905, 1906, 1911) who passed it along for publication. Similarly, it was presented to various government officials, military and diplomatic, in the United States and in Europe (1919–1920), in opposition to the Russian Revolution, and to influence the terms of the peace settlement which resulted in the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

. Accordingly, this work, which now only exists in the world as a reproduction, has all the elements of a false document. Since it is difficult to imagine a typesetter working without a manuscript, unless the typesetter was writing the document as it was printed, we must assume that one existed. But since this original forged item has long since disappeared, the crimes of fraudulently and repeatedly submitting such a false document as authentic not only cannot be prosecuted, but cannot be studied by historians or subjected to the rigorous requirements of forensics
Forensic science is the application of a broad spectrum of sciences to answer questions of interest to a legal system. This may be in relation to a crime or a civil action...


In theory

  • Boggs by Lawrence Weschler
  • Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder
    Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder
    Mr. Wilson's Cabinet Of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology is a book by Lawrence Weschler primarily about The Museum of Jurassic Technology and more broadly, the history and role of museums....

    by Lawrence Weschler
    Lawrence Weschler
    Lawrence Weschler is an author of works of creative nonfiction.A graduate of Cowell College of the University of California, Santa Cruz , Weschler was for over twenty years a staff writer at The New Yorker, where his work shuttled between political tragedies and cultural comedies...

  • Simulacra and Simulation
    Simulacra and Simulation
    Simulacra and Simulation is a philosophical treatise by Jean Baudrillard seeking to interrogate the relationship among reality, symbols, and society.-Overview:...

    by Jean Baudrillard
    Jean Baudrillard
    Jean Baudrillard was a French sociologist, philosopher, cultural theorist, political commentator, and photographer. His work is frequently associated with postmodernism and post-structuralism.-Life:...

  • Fiction Writers and Other Well-Intentioned Frauds by Eileen Pollack
    Eileen Pollack
    Eileen Pollack is an American novelist, essayist, and short story writer. She is the director of the Master of Fine Arts Program at the University of Michigan...

    , in the March/April 2003 issue of AWP Writers Chronicle
  • The Invention of False Medieval Authorities As a Literary Device in Popular Fiction by Gwendolyn A. Morgan.

In fiction

Several fiction writers use the technique of inventing a piece of literature or non-fiction and referring to this work as if it actually existed, typically by quoting from the work.

Blurring the line of reality and fiction is an important component of horror, mystery, detective
Detective fiction
Detective fiction is a sub-genre of crime fiction and mystery fiction in which an investigator , either professional or amateur, investigates a crime, often murder.-In ancient literature:...

, science fiction and fantasy narratives due to their unusual demands on verisimilitude
Verisimilitude is the quality of realism in something .-Competing ideas:The problem of verisimilitude is the problem of articulating what it takes for one false theory to be closer to the truth than another false theory...

; a typically descriptive narrative form may not engender in the reader the necessary sense of wonder and danger. For this reason, false documentary techniques have been in use for at least as long as these literary genres have existed. Frankenstein
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel about a failed experiment that produced a monster, written by Mary Shelley, with inserts of poems by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelley started writing the story when she was eighteen, and the novel was published when she was twenty-one. The first...

draws heavily on a forged document feel, as do Dracula
Dracula is an 1897 novel by Irish author Bram Stoker.Famous for introducing the character of the vampire Count Dracula, the novel tells the story of Dracula's attempt to relocate from Transylvania to England, and the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women led by Professor...

, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and many of the works of Jules Verne
Jules Verne
Jules Gabriel Verne was a French author who pioneered the science fiction genre. He is best known for his novels Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea , A Journey to the Center of the Earth , and Around the World in Eighty Days...

, Edgar Allen Poe and H.G. Wells. Vladimir Nabokov's
Vladimir Nabokov
Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov was a multilingual Russian novelist and short story writer. Nabokov wrote his first nine novels in Russian, then rose to international prominence as a master English prose stylist...

 Pale Fire
Pale Fire
Pale Fire is a novel by Vladimir Nabokov. The novel is presented as a 999-line poem titled "Pale Fire", written by the fictional John Shade, with a foreword and lengthy commentary by a neighbor and academic colleague of the poet. Together these elements form a narrative in which both authors are...

is a particularly elaborate variation.

The following is a partial list of false supporting documents in fiction:
  • Miguel de Cervantes
    Miguel de Cervantes
    Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was a Spanish novelist, poet, and playwright. His magnum opus, Don Quixote, considered the first modern novel, is a classic of Western literature, and is regarded amongst the best works of fiction ever written...

     claims that all chapters but the first in Don Quixote are translated from an Arabic manuscript by Cide Hamete Benengeli, parodying a plot device of chivalry books. For instance, Joanot Martorell
    Joanot Martorell
    Joanot Martorell was a Valencian knight and the author of the novel Tirant lo Blanch, which is written in Valencian...

     in the introductory letter to Tirant lo Blanc
    Tirant lo Blanc
    Tirant lo Blanch or Tirant lo Blanc is a romance written by the Valencian knight Joanot Martorell and published in Valencia in 1490. The title means "Tirant the White" and is the name of the main character in the romance...

     claims to be not the creator of a fiction, but the translator of an English historical manuscript.
  • Robert Graves
    Robert Graves
    Robert von Ranke Graves 24 July 1895 – 7 December 1985 was an English poet, translator and novelist. During his long life he produced more than 140 works...

    ' novel I, Claudius
    I, Claudius
    I, Claudius is a novel by English writer Robert Graves, written in the form of an autobiography of the Roman Emperor Claudius. As such, it includes history of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty and Roman Empire, from Julius Caesar's assassination in 44 BC to Caligula's assassination in AD 41...

    is written as a recently-discovered autobiography penned by the late Emperor.
  • Daniel Defoe
    Daniel Defoe
    Daniel Defoe , born Daniel Foe, was an English trader, writer, journalist, and pamphleteer, who gained fame for his novel Robinson Crusoe. Defoe is notable for being one of the earliest proponents of the novel, as he helped to popularise the form in Britain and along with others such as Richardson,...

    's Robinson Crusoe
    Robinson Crusoe
    Robinson Crusoe is a novel by Daniel Defoe that was first published in 1719. Epistolary, confessional, and didactic in form, the book is a fictional autobiography of the title character—a castaway who spends 28 years on a remote tropical island near Trinidad, encountering cannibals, captives, and...

    was supposedly the autobiography of the title character, an English
    English people
    The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

    A castaway is a person who is cast adrift or ashore. While the situation usually happens after a shipwreck, some people voluntarily stay behind on a deserted island, either to evade their captors or the world in general. Alternatively, a person or item can be cast away, meaning rejected or discarded...

     who spent 28 years on a remote island
    An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

    . The account was presented as a factual event, in a genre called histories. It was based on the real castaway Alexander Selkirk
    Alexander Selkirk
    Alexander Selkirk was a Scottish sailor who spent four years as a castaway when he was marooned on an uninhabited island. It is probable that his travels provided the inspiration for Daniel Defoe's novel Robinson Crusoe....

  • Jonathan Swift
    Jonathan Swift
    Jonathan Swift was an Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer , poet and cleric who became Dean of St...

    's Gulliver's Travels
    Gulliver's Travels
    Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships, better known simply as Gulliver's Travels , is a novel by Anglo-Irish writer and clergyman Jonathan Swift that is both a satire on human nature and a parody of...

    was originally attributed to "Lemuel Gulliver
    Lemuel Gulliver
    Lemuel Gulliver is the protagonist and narrator of Gulliver's Travels, a novel written by Jonathan Swift, first published in 1726.-In Gulliver's Travels:...

    ", a ship's surgeon, and purported to be a factual account of four of his sea voyages. It even includes a rather irate bogus note from Gulliver to his publisher. It may be debatable whether the book is an example of a False Document, but is included because it initially bore little or no indication that it was a work of fiction.
  • The Ossian
    Ossian is the narrator and supposed author of a cycle of poems which the Scottish poet James Macpherson claimed to have translated from ancient sources in the Scots Gaelic. He is based on Oisín, son of Finn or Fionn mac Cumhaill, anglicised to Finn McCool, a character from Irish mythology...

     cycle of ancient Celtic poetry supposedly rediscovered and published in 1760 by Scottish poet James Macpherson
    James Macpherson
    James Macpherson was a Scottish writer, poet, literary collector and politician, known as the "translator" of the Ossian cycle of poems.-Early life:...

     was actually written in the eighteenth century, possibly based on some fragments of earlier verses.
  • Voltaire
    François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

    's novel Candide
    Candide, ou l'Optimisme is a French satire first published in 1759 by Voltaire, a philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment. The novella has been widely translated, with English versions titled Candide: or, All for the Best ; Candide: or, The Optimist ; and Candide: or, Optimism...

    purports to be assembled from the notes of a deceased "Monsieur le docteur Ralph", likely because the novel pokes fun at most of the powers of Europe at the time.
  • Bram Stoker
    Bram Stoker
    Abraham "Bram" Stoker was an Irish novelist and short story writer, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula...

    's novel Dracula is told in the form of numerous documents, including journals and newspaper articles. A brief introduction claims that they are all real.
  • Italo Calvino
    Italo Calvino
    Italo Calvino was an Italian journalist and writer of short stories and novels. His best known works include the Our Ancestors trilogy , the Cosmicomics collection of short stories , and the novels Invisible Cities and If on a winter's night a traveler .Lionised in Britain and the United States,...

    's novel If On a Winter's Night a Traveller deals extensively with the concepts surrounding false documents, including serially representing the contents of the novel itself as a false document.
  • The Anno Dracula
    Anno Dracula series
    The Anno Dracula series by Kim Newman—named after Anno Dracula , the series' first novel—is a work of fantasy depicting an alternate history in which the heroes of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula fail to stop Count Dracula's conquest of Great Britain, resulting in a world where vampires are common and...

     stories and novels of Kim Newman
    Kim Newman
    Kim Newman is an English journalist, film critic, and fiction writer. Recurring interests visible in his work include film history and horror fiction—both of which he attributes to seeing Tod Browning's Dracula at the age of eleven—and alternate fictional versions of history...

     use many of these same false sources.
  • The Necronomicon
    The Necronomicon is a fictional grimoire appearing in the stories by horror writer H. P. Lovecraft and his followers. It was first mentioned in Lovecraft's 1924 short story "The Hound", written in 1922, though its purported author, the "Mad Arab" Abdul Alhazred, had been quoted a year earlier in...

    appearing in the works of H. P. Lovecraft
    H. P. Lovecraft
    Howard Phillips Lovecraft --often credited as H.P. Lovecraft — was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction, especially the subgenre known as weird fiction....

  • The King in Yellow
    The King in Yellow
    The King in Yellow is a collection of short stories written by Robert W. Chambers and published in 1895. The stories could be categorized as early horror fiction or Victorian Gothic fiction, but the work also touches on mythology, fantasy, mystery, science fiction and romance...

    appearing in the book of the same name by Robert W. Chambers
    Robert W. Chambers
    Robert William Chambers was an American artist and writer.-Biography:He was born in Brooklyn, New York, to William P. Chambers , a famous lawyer, and Caroline Chambers , a direct descendant of Roger Williams, the founder of Providence, Rhode Island...

     purports to be an actual play that is capable of driving the reader insane.
  • Both the books Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages
    Quidditch Through the Ages
    Quidditch Through the Ages is a 2001 book written by British author J. K. Rowling about Quidditch in the Harry Potter universe. It purports to be the Hogwarts library's copy of the non-fiction book of the same name mentioned in several novels of the Harry Potter series.Rowling's name does not...

    , which were written by Harry Potter
    Harry Potter
    Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by the British author J. K. Rowling. The books chronicle the adventures of the adolescent wizard Harry Potter and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry...

     author J.K. Rowling as a way to raise funds for Comic Relief
    Comic Relief
    Comic Relief is an operating British charity, founded in 1985 by the comedy scriptwriter Richard Curtis and comedian Lenny Henry in response to famine in Ethiopia. The highlight of Comic Relief's appeal is Red Nose Day, a biennial telethon held in March, alternating with sister project Sport Relief...

    , are written as reference books for the wizarding world. The books, which are referenced many times in the Harry Potter
    Harry Potter
    Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by the British author J. K. Rowling. The books chronicle the adventures of the adolescent wizard Harry Potter and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry...

     books, even have footnotes about other books, which do not exist, for future reading, and a foreword by Albus Dumbledore
    Albus Dumbledore
    Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore is a major character in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. For most of the series, he is the headmaster of the wizarding school Hogwarts...

    , which explains why they are releasing the book to a muggle
    Muggle, a term from the Harry Potter book series by J. K. Rowling, refers to a person who lacks any sort of magical ability and was not born into the magical world...

     audience. Fantastic Beasts also has "written-in" commentary by both Harry and Ron.
  • Neil Gaiman
    Neil Gaiman
    Neil Richard Gaiman born 10 November 1960)is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films. His notable works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book...

    , in the first issue of his comic Sandman
    The Sandman is a figure in folklore who brings good sleep and dreams.Sandman may also refer to:-People:*Mark Sandman, singer and co-founder of the band Morphine*Charles W...

    , introduced the grimoire titled Grimorium Magdelene.
  • In The Club Dumas
    The Club Dumas
    The Club Dumas is a 1993 novel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte. The book is set in a world of antiquarian booksellers echoing his previous work, The Flanders Panel....

    , author Arturo Pérez-Reverte
    Arturo Pérez-Reverte
    Arturo Pérez-Reverte Gutiérrez is a Spanish novelist and journalist. He worked as a war correspondent for twenty-one years . His first novel, El húsar, set in the Napoleonic Wars, was released in 1986. He is well known outside Spain for his "Alatriste" series of novels...

     introduced the grimoire The Nine Doors of the Kingdom of Shadows (also called The Ninth Gate) as well as the Delomalanicon.
  • Author William Goldman
    William Goldman
    William Goldman is an American novelist, playwright, and Academy Award-winning screenwriter.-Early life and education:...

     claims in his book The Princess Bride
    The Princess Bride
    The Princess Bride is a 1973 fantasy novel written by William Goldman. It was originally published in the United States by Harcourt Brace, while in the UK it is/was published by Bloomsbury Publishing....

    that the story he tells is an abridged version of the Florinese literary masterpiece by the great (and fictional) S. Morgenstern.
  • The 1977 book Gnomes
    Gnomes (book)
    Gnomes is a 1977 book, one in a series of books, written by Wil Huygen and illustrated by Rien Poortvliet....

    by Wil Huygen
    Wil Huygen
    Wil Huygen , was a Dutch book author. He is best known for the picture books on gnomes, illustrated by Rien Poortvliet....

     and Rien Poortvliet
    Rien Poortvliet
    Rien Poortvliet was a Dutch draughtsman and painter.Born in Schiedam, he was best known for his of animals and for "Gnomes" in the famous series of books by Wil Huygen and published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc. of New York City.Being a plasterer's son from Schiedam, making a living as an artist did...

     was written as a nature study of gnomes and their way of life presented as fact.
  • Fritz Leiber
    Fritz Leiber
    Fritz Reuter Leiber, Jr. was an American writer of fantasy, horror and science fiction. He was also a poet, actor in theatre and films, playwright, expert chess player and a champion fencer. Possibly his greatest chess accomplishment was winning clear first in the 1958 Santa Monica Open.. With...

    's novella Our Lady of Darkness revolves around the secret occult studies of fictional author/occultist Thibaut de Castries and his book Megapolisomancy
    Our Lady of Darkness by Fritz Leiber is a book containing a description of "Megapolisomancy", a fictional occult science. It was written in the United States and is a work of fantasy and science fiction.-The Occult Science:...

    : A New Science of Cities
  • The Name of the Rose
    The Name of the Rose
    The Name of the Rose is the first novel by Italian author Umberto Eco. It is a historical murder mystery set in an Italian monastery in the year 1327, an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory...

    by Umberto Eco
    Umberto Eco
    Umberto Eco Knight Grand Cross is an Italian semiotician, essayist, philosopher, literary critic, and novelist, best known for his novel The Name of the Rose , an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory...

     pretends to be a recovered manuscript. In addition, the story partly concerns the discovery of Aristotle
    Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

    's book on Comedy, which is in fact a lost book.
  • First Encyclopaedia of Tlön appearing in the short story "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius
    Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius
    "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" is a short story by the 20th century Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. The story was first published in the Argentine journal Sur, May 1940. The "postscript" dated 1947 is intended to be anachronistic, set seven years in the future...

    " by Jorge Luis Borges
    Jorge Luis Borges
    Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo , known as Jorge Luis Borges , was an Argentine writer, essayist, poet and translator born in Buenos Aires. In 1914 his family moved to Switzerland where he attended school, receiving his baccalauréat from the Collège de Genève in 1918. The family...

    , plus several other fictional books invented by the same author, including an entire bibliography
    Bibliography , as a practice, is the academic study of books as physical, cultural objects; in this sense, it is also known as bibliology...

     for the fictional author Pierre Menard
    Pierre Menard (fictional character)
    "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote" is a short story by Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges.It originally appeared in Spanish in the Argentine journal Sur in May 1939...

    . Borges' analysis of metafiction in the essay When Fiction Lives in Fiction
    When Fiction Lives in Fiction
    When Fiction Lives in Fiction is the title of a significant narrative essay written in 1939 by the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges. Weighing in at something less than three pages in length, Borges explores in his inimitable way the teleological nature of metadocuments in fiction such as, for...

    deals extensively with the teleological nature of false documents.
  • Several works of the fictional author Fanshawe appearing in Paul Auster
    Paul Auster
    Paul Benjamin Auster is an American author known for works blending absurdism, existentialism, crime fiction and the search for identity and personal meaning in works such as The New York Trilogy , Moon Palace , The Music of Chance , The Book of Illusions and The Brooklyn Follies...

    's The Locked Room in The New York Trilogy
    The New York Trilogy
    The New York Trilogy is a series of novels by Paul Auster. Originally published sequentially as City of Glass , Ghosts and The Locked Room , it has since been collected into a single volume.- Plot introduction :...

  • The Red Book of Westmarch
    Red Book of Westmarch
    The Red Book of Westmarch is a fictional manuscript written by hobbits, a conceit of author J. R. R...

    and a surviving copy of it called The Thain's Book, portions of which were "translated" by J. R. R. Tolkien
    J. R. R. Tolkien
    John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College,...

     into his books The Hobbit
    The Hobbit
    The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, better known by its abbreviated title The Hobbit, is a fantasy novel and children's book by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald...

    and The Lord of the Rings
    The Lord of the Rings
    The Lord of the Rings is a high fantasy epic written by English philologist and University of Oxford professor J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children's fantasy novel The Hobbit , but eventually developed into a much larger work. It was written in...

    . Tolkien also physically fabricated several pages of another fictional book, the Book of Mazarbul.
  • Never Whistle While You're Pissing is the work of the fictional character Hagbard Celine in The Illuminatus! Trilogy
    The Illuminatus! Trilogy
    The Illuminatus! Trilogy is a series of three novels written by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson first published in 1975. The trilogy is a satirical, postmodern, science fiction-influenced adventure story; a drug-, sex-, and magick-laden trek through a number of conspiracy theories, both...

     by Robert Shea
    Robert Shea
    Robert Joseph Shea was an American novelist and former journalist best known as co-author with Robert Anton Wilson of the science fantasy trilogy Illuminatus!. It became a cult success and was later turned into a marathon-length stage show put on at the British National Theatre and elsewhere. In...

     and Robert Anton Wilson
    Robert Anton Wilson
    Robert Anton Wilson , known to friends as "Bob", was an American author and polymath who became at various times a novelist, philosopher, psychologist, essayist, editor, playwright, poet, futurist, civil libertarian and self-described agnostic mystic...

  • Michael Crichton
    Michael Crichton
    John Michael Crichton , best known as Michael Crichton, was an American best-selling author, producer, director, and screenwriter, best known for his work in the science fiction, medical fiction, and thriller genres. His books have sold over 200 million copies worldwide, and many have been adapted...

    's Eaters of the Dead
    Eaters of the Dead
    Eaters of the Dead: The Manuscript of Ibn Fadlan Relating His Experiences with the Northmen in A.D. 922 is a 1976 novel by Michael Crichton...

    is a fabricated recreation of the Old English
    Old English language
    Old English or Anglo-Saxon is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons and their descendants in parts of what are now England and southeastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century...

    Epic poetry
    An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

    Beowulf , but modern scholars agree in naming it after the hero whose life is its subject." of an Old English heroic epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative long lines, set in Scandinavia, commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature.It survives in a single...

    in the form of a scholastic translation of Ahmad ibn Fadlan
    Ahmad ibn Fadlan
    Ahmad ibn Fadlān ibn al-Abbās ibn Rāšid ibn Hammād was a 10th century Arab traveler, famous for his account of his travels as a member of an embassy of the Arab Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad to the king of the Volga Bulgars...

    's tenth century manuscript. Many of his other novels, such as The Andromeda Strain
    The Andromeda Strain
    The Andromeda Strain , by Michael Crichton, is a techno-thriller novel documenting the efforts of a team of scientists investigating a deadly extraterrestrial microorganism that rapidly and fatally clots human blood, while in other people inducing insanity...

    and Jurassic Park, also incorporated large quantities of fabricated scientific documents in the form of diagrams, DNA
    Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

     sequences, footnotes and bibliography.
  • Business historian Robert Sobel
    Robert Sobel
    Robert Sobel was an American professor of history at Hofstra University, and a well-known and prolific writer of business histories.- Biography :...

     wrote For Want of a Nail, a fictional history of an alternate North America which included hundreds of fictional footnotes and a bibliography listing over a hundred fictional histories and biographies.
  • Dozens of fictional footnotes referencing events, books of magical scholarship, and biographies in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
    Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
    Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is the 2004 first novel by British writer Susanna Clarke. An alternative history set in 19th-century England around the time of the Napoleonic Wars, it is based on the premise that magic once existed in England and has returned with two men: Gilbert Norrell and...

    , the debut novel by Susanna Clarke
    Susanna Clarke
    Susanna Mary Clarke is a British author best known for her debut novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell , a Hugo Award-winning alternate history. Clarke began Jonathan Strange in 1993 and worked on it during her spare time...

  • Milorad Pavić
    Milorad Pavic (writer)
    Milorad Pavić was a Serbian poet, prose writer, translator, and literary historian. He was also a candidate for Nobel Prize in Literature....

    's Dictionary of the Khazars
    Dictionary of the Khazars
    Dictionary of the Khazars: A Lexicon Novel is the first novel by Serbian writer Milorad Pavić, published in 1984. Originally written in Serbian, the novel has been translated into many languages...

    is a work of fiction in the form of three fictional encyclopedia
    An encyclopedia is a type of reference work, a compendium holding a summary of information from either all branches of knowledge or a particular branch of knowledge....

    s, which incorporate viewpoints that provide inconsistent descriptions of the events they describe.
  • A Princess of Mars
    A Princess of Mars
    A Princess of Mars is a science fiction novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the first of his Barsoom series. It is also Burroughs' first novel, predating his famous Tarzan series. Full of swordplay and daring feats, the novel is considered a classic example of 20th century pulp fiction...

    by Edgar Rice Burroughs
    Edgar Rice Burroughs
    Edgar Rice Burroughs was an American author, best known for his creation of the jungle hero Tarzan and the heroic Mars adventurer John Carter, although he produced works in many genres.-Biography:...

     claims to be the manuscript of John Carter
    John Carter (character)
    John Carter is a fictional character, created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, who appears in the Barsoom series of novels. Though actually a Virginian from Earth and a visitor to Mars, he is often referred to as "John Carter of Mars" in reference to the general setting in which his deeds are recorded, in...

     relating his adventures on Mars
    Barsoom is a fictional representation of the planet Mars created by American pulp fiction author Edgar Rice Burroughs, who wrote close to 100 action adventure stories in various genres in the first half of the 20th century, and is now best known as the creator of the character Tarzan...

    , except for the first chapter explaining how the manuscript was received. Burroughs has also used this technique extensively in his other novels, particularly the tales of Pellucidar
    Pellucidar is a fictional Hollow Earth milieu invented by Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs for a series of action adventure stories. In a notable crossover event between Burroughs' series, there is a Tarzan story in which the Ape Man travels into Pellucidar.The stories initially involve the...

  • House of Leaves
    House of Leaves
    House of Leaves is the debut novel by the American author Mark Z. Danielewski, published by Pantheon Books. The novel quickly became a bestseller following its March 7, 2000 release. It was followed by a companion piece, The Whalestoe Letters...

    by Mark Z. Danielewski
    Mark Z. Danielewski
    Mark Z. Danielewski, born March 5, 1966 in New York City, New York, is an American author, best known for his debut novel House of Leaves...

     is a work of fiction revolving around the discovery of a manuscript critiquing a documentary called The Navidson Record and its effects on both its author and editor.
  • The Third Policeman
    The Third Policeman
    The Third Policeman is a novel by Irish author Brian O'Nolan, writing under the pseudonym Flann O'Brien. It was written between 1939 and 1940, but after it initially failed to find a publisher, the author withdrew the manuscript from circulation and claimed he had lost it. The book remained...

    and The Dalkey Archive
    The Dalkey Archive
    The Dalkey Archive is a novel by the Irish writer Flann O'Brien. It is his fifth and final novel, published in 1964, two years before his death. It features a mad scientist, De Selby, who tries to destroy the world by removing all the oxygen from the air. He has also many strange inventions...

    by Flann O'Brien
    Flann O'Brien
    Brian O'Nolan was an Irish novelist, playwright and satirist regarded as a key figure in postmodern literature. Best known for novels such as At Swim-Two-Birds, The Third Policeman and An Béal Bocht and many satirical columns in The Irish Times Brian O'Nolan (5 October 1911 – 1 April 1966) was...

     contains not only quotes from the works of a fictitious Irish philosopher named de Selby
    De Selby
    De Selby is the name of a fictitious Irish philosopher and scientist, originally invented by Flann O'Brien for his novel The Third Policeman. In this novel the character is known as "de Selby", with the latter capital D appearing in use in O'Brien's The Dalkey Archive...

    , but also has numerous footnotes and references to other fictitious authors writing about de Selby and his books.
  • The Flashman books by George MacDonald Fraser
    George MacDonald Fraser
    George MacDonald Fraser, OBE was an English-born author of Scottish descent, who wrote both historical novels and non-fiction books, as well as several screenplays.-Early life and military career:...

     are supposedly edited versions of the title character's memoirs.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a science fiction comedy series created by Douglas Adams. Originally a radio comedy broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978, it was later adapted to other formats, and over several years it gradually became an international multi-media phenomenon...

    by Douglas Adams
    Douglas Adams
    Douglas Noel Adams was an English writer and dramatist. He is best known as the author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which started life in 1978 as a BBC radio comedy before developing into a "trilogy" of five books that sold over 15 million copies in his lifetime, a television...

     is named for a fictional galactic encyclopedia that one of the main characters works for. The book also frequently quotes the fictional Guide.
  • The roleplaying game Spaceship Zero
    Spaceship Zero
    Spaceship Zero is the title of a role-playing game and an indie rock CD.- Role-playing Game :The role-playing game was written by Warren Banks and Toren Atkinson including contributions from John Tynes and Monte Cook and Andrew J Lucas and published by Green Ronin Publishing in 2002...

    presents itself as being based on a non-existent television show, which is based on a non-existent radio play, all of which are to be adapted into a non-existent film. The hoax has been generally accepted in a number of reviews of the title.
  • Philip K. Dick
    Philip K. Dick
    Philip Kindred Dick was an American novelist, short story writer and essayist whose published work is almost entirely in the science fiction genre. Dick explored sociological, political and metaphysical themes in novels dominated by monopolistic corporations, authoritarian governments and altered...

    's novel The Man in the High Castle
    The Man in the High Castle
    The Man in the High Castle is a science fiction alternate history novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. It won a Hugo Award in 1963 and has since been translated into many languages....

    features a (banned) fictional work called The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, which purports to describe how things might have transpired after World War II if the Allied side had won (in the reality of the book, the Axis powers triumphed).
  • The Historian
    The Historian
    The Historian interweaves the history and folklore of Vlad Ţepeş, a 15th-century prince of Wallachia known as "Vlad the Impaler", and his fictional equivalent Count Dracula together with the story of Paul, a professor; his 16-year-old daughter; and their quest for Vlad's tomb...

    by Elizabeth Kostova
    Elizabeth Kostova
    Elizabeth Johnson Kostova is an American author best known for her debut novel The Historian.-Early life:Elizabeth Z. Johnson was born in New London, Connecticut and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee where she graduated from the Webb School of Knoxville...

     purports to be a book by the main character, and further contains a number of other letters, books, and maps
    Maps is the plural of map, a visual representation of an area.As an acronym, MAPS may refer to:* Mail Abuse Prevention System, an organisation that provides anti-spam support...

     relating to Dracula and the main character's friends and family.
  • The twelve-volume opus Life by Unspiek, Baron Bodissey
    Baron Bodissey
    Unspiek, Baron Bodissey, is a fictional character referred to in many of the novels of speculative-fiction author Jack Vance. Within those novels he has the status of an authority, though he is sometimes referred to with amusement or scepticism. Like the 'mad poet' Navarth, he first appeared in the...

     is an oft-quoted imaginary work referred to in various novels by Jack Vance
    Jack Vance
    John Holbrook Vance is an American mystery, fantasy and science fiction author. Most of his work has been published under the name Jack Vance. Vance has published 11 mysteries as John Holbrook Vance and 3 as Ellery Queen...

  • Isaac Asimov
    Isaac Asimov
    Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000...

    's Encyclopedia Galactica
    Encyclopedia Galactica
    The Encyclopædia Galactica is a fictional or hypothetical encyclopædia of a future human galaxy-spanning civilization, containing all the knowledge accumulated by a society with quadrillions of people and thousands of years of history...

    as presented in The Foundation Series
    The Foundation Series
    The Foundation Series is a science fiction series by Isaac Asimov. There are seven volumes in the Foundation Series proper, which in its in-universe chronological order are: Prelude to Foundation, Forward the Foundation, Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation, Foundation's Edge, and...

     is an attempt to compile all human knowledge in order to preserve it following the collapse of the Galactic Empire in the far future. An "excerpt" from it introduces each chapter of each book in the series.
  • Isaac Asimov's story "The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline" is a fictional research paper about a compound that dissolves before being added to water that cites only and entirely false sources.
  • Stephen King
    Stephen King
    Stephen Edwin King is an American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction and fantasy fiction. His books have sold more than 350 million copies and have been adapted into a number of feature films, television movies and comic books...

    's novel Carrie
    Carrie (novel)
    Carrie is American author Stephen King's first published novel, released in 1974. It revolves around the eponymous Carrie, a shy high-school girl, who uses her newly discovered telekinetic powers to exact revenge on those who tease her...

    includes many excerpts from a fictional committee's findings on the events in the novel, as well as excerpts from a book on the events in the novel titled The Shadow Exploded.
  • Dean Koontz
    Dean Koontz
    Dean Ray Koontz is a prolific American author best known for his novels which could be described broadly as suspense thrillers. He also frequently incorporates elements of horror, science fiction, mystery, and satire. A number of his books have appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List, with...

    's novels included quotations from The Book of Counted Sorrows
    The Book of Counted Sorrows
    The Book of Counted Sorrows was originally a nonexistent book "quoted" in many of Dean Koontz's books. Koontz subsequently wrote a book of poetry by the same title.-Nonexistent book:...

    , which did not exist until, at the urging of his fans, he created it.
  • Jack Higgins
    Jack Higgins
    Jack Higgins is the principal pseudonym of UK novelist Harry Patterson. Patterson is the author of more than 60 novels. As Higgins, most have been thrillers of various types and, since his breakthrough novel The Eagle Has Landed in 1975, nearly all have been bestsellers...

     based his book The Eagle Has Landed
    The Eagle Has Landed
    The Eagle Has Landed is a book by Jack Higgins set during World War II. It first published in 1975. It was made into a film of the same name in 1976 starring Michael Caine...

    on alleged research into a German abduction plot in the Second World War. Higgins writes in the first person of finding the graves of 13 German paratroopers in an English churchyard, an event known not to have actually occurred, and claims that the book stems from his research into actual events.
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne
    Nathaniel Hawthorne
    Nathaniel Hawthorne was an American novelist and short story writer.Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in 1804 in the city of Salem, Massachusetts to Nathaniel Hathorne and the former Elizabeth Clarke Manning. His ancestors include John Hathorne, a judge during the Salem Witch Trials...

    's book The Scarlet Letter
    The Scarlet Letter
    The Scarlet Letter is an 1850 romantic work of fiction in a historical setting, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It is considered to be his magnum opus. Set in 17th-century Puritan Boston during the years 1642 to 1649, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an...

    opens with an account of the author himself finding the letter and records which tell the story of Hester Prynne, which is narrated in the rest of the book. The existence of the records has never been proven; the opening is generally considered to be a literary device.
  • Margaret Atwood
    Margaret Atwood
    Margaret Eleanor Atwood, is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, and environmental activist. She is among the most-honoured authors of fiction in recent history; she is a winner of the Arthur C...

    's novel The Handmaid's Tale
    The Handmaid's Tale
    The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian novel, a work of science fiction or speculative fiction, written by Canadian author Margaret Atwood and first published by McClelland and Stewart in 1985...

    closes with a chapter set at a conference taking place some time after the events of the rest of the book, in which scholars question the authenticity of the earlier manuscript.
  • The comic book
    Comic book
    A comic book or comicbook is a magazine made up of comics, narrative artwork in the form of separate panels that represent individual scenes, often accompanied by dialog as well as including...

     limited series
    Limited series
    A limited series is a comic book series with a set number of installments. A limited series differs from an ongoing series in that the number of issues is determined before production and it differs from a one shot in that it is composed of multiple issues....

    Watchmen is a twelve-issue comic book limited series created by writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons, and colourist John Higgins. The series was published by DC Comics during 1986 and 1987, and has been subsequently reprinted in collected form...

    makes extensive use of the technique, including one character's autobiography, magazine interviews with several characters, psychiatric reports and even a fictional comic book within the comic book.
  • James Gurney's Dinotopia
    Dinotopia is a fictional utopia created by author and illustrator James Gurney. It is the setting for the book series with which it shares its name. Dinotopia is an isolated island inhabited by shipwrecked humans and sentient dinosaurs who have learned to coexist peacefully as a single symbiotic...

    : Land Apart from Time
    is based on the premise that it is the diary of Arthur Dennison, who gets shipwrecked on the island of Dinotopia.
  • Nick Bantock
    Nick Bantock
    Nick Bantock is a British artist and author based in Saltspring Island, British Columbia. Bantock is well-known for his popular series, The Griffin and Sabine Trilogy, and for making collage popular...

    's series of Griffin and Sabine
    Griffin and Sabine
    Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence is an epistolary novel by Nick Bantock, published in 1991 by Chronicle Books in the United States and Raincoast Books in Canada. It is the first novel in The Griffin and Sabine Trilogy and was a bestseller in 1991...

    works consist of a series of letters and postcards between the two main characters.
  • The Tattooed Map, a novel by Barbara Hodgson also published by Raincoast Books, reads as a journal being kept by the protagonists as they travel to Morocco, complete with hardwritten notes, photos and magazine cutouts from the journey.
  • How Is This Going to Continue?, a novel by James Chapman
    James Chapman (author)
    James Chapman is an American novelist and publisher. He was raised in Bakersfield, California, has lived in New York City since 1978, and is the author of nine novels to date....

    , presents itself as the libretto to a musical work by a composer whose (fictional) entry in The Grove Dictionary of Music is quoted at length. The apparatus is supported by extensive source notes, some of which refer to non-existent sources. Moreover, much of the book consists of false quotations by famous musicians, intermingled with actual quotations and with quotes by fictional characters.
  • The books in Lemony Snicket
    Lemony Snicket
    Lemony Snicket is the pen name of American novelist Daniel Handler . Snicket is the author of several children's books, serving as the narrator of A Series of Unfortunate Events and appearing as a character within the series. Because of this, the name Lemony Snicket may refer to both a fictional...

    's A Series of Unfortunate Events
    A Series of Unfortunate Events
    A Series of Unfortunate Events is a series of children's novels by Lemony Snicket which follows the turbulent lives of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire after their parents' death in an arsonous house fire...

    conclude with supposed letters from Snicket himself to his editor, containing a summary of his submitted manuscript for the following book in the series. Since Lemony Snicket is both the fictional narrator of the stories as well as the author's pseudonym
    A pseudonym is a name that a person assumes for a particular purpose and that differs from his or her original orthonym...

    , it creates a false sense that the stories are written from truth.
  • The Screwtape Letters
    The Screwtape Letters
    The Screwtape Letters is a satirical Christian apologetics novel written in epistolary style by C. S. Lewis, first published in book form in February 1942...

    , written by C. S. Lewis
    C. S. Lewis
    Clive Staples Lewis , commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as "Jack", was a novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist from Belfast, Ireland...

    , is purported to be a series of missives from a demonic teacher at a college to his protégé.
  • The Zombie Survival Guide
    The Zombie Survival Guide
    The Zombie Survival Guide, written by American author Max Brooks and published in 2003, is a survival manual dealing with the fictional potentiality of a zombie attack. It contains detailed plans for the average citizen to survive zombie uprisings of varying intensity and reach, and describes...

    , by Max Brooks
    Max Brooks
    Maximillian Michael "Max" Brooks is an American author and screenwriter, with a particular interest in zombies. Brooks is also a television and voice-over actor.- Early life and education :...

    , presents itself as a survival manual in the event of a zombie outbreak. It includes citations of scientific studies performed on zombies, details on the sort of preparation one can make to guard against attacks, and historical examples of zombie outbreaks. It concludes with blank pages which the owner is meant to use as a journal, should they endure a zombie outbreak, lending the book a stronger, if satiric, kind of realism. Brooks' later work, World War Z
    World War Z
    World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is a 2006 post-apocalyptic horror novel by Max Brooks. It is a follow-up to his 2003 book The Zombie Survival Guide. Rather than a grand overview or narrative, World War Z is a collection of individual accounts in the form of first-person anecdote...

    , uses false interviews to create a mockumentary
    A mockumentary , is a type of film or television show in which fictitious events are presented in documentary format. These productions are often used to analyze or comment on current events and issues by using a fictitious setting, or to parody the documentary form itself...

     account of a worldwide zombie outbreak.
  • "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
    The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
    "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar" is a short story by American author Edgar Allan Poe about a mesmerist who puts a man in a suspended hypnotic state at the moment of death. An example of a tale of suspense and horror, it is also, to a certain degree, a hoax as it was published without claiming...

    ", by Edgar Allan Poe
    Edgar Allan Poe
    Edgar Allan Poe was an American author, poet, editor and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective...

    , about a mesmerist who puts a man in a suspended hypnotic state at the moment of death. It was published without claiming to be fictional, and many at the time of publication (1845), took it to be a factual account.
  • Each chapter in Frank Herbert
    Frank Herbert
    Franklin Patrick Herbert, Jr. was a critically acclaimed and commercially successful American science fiction author. Although a short story author, he is best known for his novels, most notably Dune and its five sequels...

    's science fiction novels Whipping Star
    Whipping Star
    Whipping Star is a science fiction novel by Frank Herbert. It is the first full-length novel set in the ConSentiency universe established by Herbert in his novelette The Tactful Saboteur.- Plot summary :...

    , The Dosadi Experiment
    The Dosadi Experiment
    The Dosadi Experiment is a science fiction novel written by Frank Herbert. It is the second full-length novel set in the ConSentiency universe established by Herbert in his novelette The Tactful Saboteur and continued in Whipping Star....

    , and Dune
    In physical geography, a dune is a hill of sand built by wind. Dunes occur in different forms and sizes, formed by interaction with the wind. Most kinds of dunes are longer on the windward side where the sand is pushed up the dune and have a shorter "slip face" in the lee of the wind...

     variously begin with an aphorism, an excerpt from an official report (or even a manual), a quotation from a book about the events of the novel, etc.
  • Either/Or
    Published in two volumes in 1843, Either/Or is an influential book written by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, exploring the aesthetic and ethical "phases" or "stages" of existence....

    , an influential philosophical text by Søren Kierkegaard
    Søren Kierkegaard
    Søren Aabye Kierkegaard was a Danish Christian philosopher, theologian and religious author. He was a critic of idealist intellectuals and philosophers of his time, such as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling and Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel...

    , purports to be a collection of texts discovered and edited by Kierkegaard's pseudonymous author Victor Eremita. In it are contained the writings of an "Aesthete" (called A), as well as the letters of a Judge Vilhelm (called B), both found accidentally by Eremita in an antique writing desk. An additional layer to the book includes the famous Seducer's Diary, itself supposedly discovered by the Aesthete.

A special case is represented by two examples fashioned to represent traditional academic scientific publications:
  • The Snouters: Form and Life of the Rhinogrades, by Zoologist
    Zoology |zoölogy]]), is the branch of biology that relates to the animal kingdom, including the structure, embryology, evolution, classification, habits, and distribution of all animals, both living and extinct...

     Gerolf Steiner
    Gerolf Steiner
    Gerolf Steiner was a German zoologist.He was born on March 23, 1908 in Strasbourg, and occupied the chair of zoology at the University of Karlsruhe from 1962 to 1973. He is famous worldwide for a little book on the anatomy and habits of the Rhinogradentia, a fictitious order of mammals whose nose...

    , purports to be a non-fictional natural history
    Natural history
    Natural history is the scientific research of plants or animals, leaning more towards observational rather than experimental methods of study, and encompasses more research published in magazines than in academic journals. Grouped among the natural sciences, natural history is the systematic study...

     study, and was written, published, and presented as if it were an actual scientific treatise documenting the recently-extinct indigenous wildlife ("Rhinogradentia
    The Rhinogradentia are a fictitious mammal order documented by the equally fictitious German naturalist Harald Stümpke...

    ") of the equally fictitious Hi-yi-yi
    Hi-yi-yi was a fictitious small archipelago in the Pacific Ocean supposedly destroyed by the secret nuclear test of the US military in the 1950s...

    An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

    . There is nothing in the work itself that indicates it is a work of fiction.
  • In a remarkably similar vein, science fiction
    Science fiction
    Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

     artist and author Wayne Douglas Barlowe wrote Expedition: Being an Account in Words and Artwork of the 2358 A.D. Voyage to Darwin IV
    Expedition (book)
    Expedition is the title of a science fiction book by artist-author Wayne Douglas Barlowe. Subtitled "Being an Account in Words and Artwork of the 2358 A.D...

    , which was a natural history study of an alien planet and its indigenous wildlife, written as though published in the year 2366.

  • Alessandro Manzoni
    Alessandro Manzoni
    Alessandro Francesco Tommaso Manzoni was an Italian poet and novelist.He is famous for the novel The Betrothed , generally ranked among the masterpieces of world literature...

    's The Betrothed is based on a fictional manuscript.

In games

In video games, the adventure
Adventure game
An adventure game is a video game in which the player assumes the role of protagonist in an interactive story driven by exploration and puzzle-solving instead of physical challenge. The genre's focus on story allows it to draw heavily from other narrative-based media such as literature and film,...

 genre has most frequently given rise to the use of false documents to create a sense of immersion. The feelies pioneered by text adventure
Interactive fiction
Interactive fiction, often abbreviated IF, describes software simulating environments in which players use text commands to control characters and influence the environment. Works in this form can be understood as literary narratives and as video games. In common usage, the term refers to text...

 company Infocom
Infocom was a software company, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that produced numerous works of interactive fiction. They also produced one notable business application, a relational database called Cornerstone....

 include many examples, such as blueprints, maps, documents, and publications designed within the context of each game's fictional setting. A more recent development, the alternate reality game
Alternate reality game
An alternate reality game is an interactive narrative that uses the real world as a platform, often involving multiple media and game elements, to tell a story that may be affected by participants' ideas or actions....

, is intrinsically tied to the concept; an ARG may exist solely as a collection of false documents that build a fictional storyline and puzzles connected to it.

A prominent example of false document in the videogame genre is the Resident Evil
Resident Evil (series)
Resident Evil, known as in Japan, is a media franchise owned by the video game company Capcom. It was created by Shinji Mikami as a survival horror game series that was initiated with the eponymous PlayStation title Resident Evil in 1996. Since then, the game series has strayed from its roots to...

 series, which, from the first installment, uses newspaper clippings and television news reports that report the alleged cannibalistic murder of the victims found in the Arklay Mountain region. While the rest of the series does not do this as much as the first, there are still a few cases that it happens, such as the opening sequence of Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil 4, known in Japan as , is a survival horror third-person shooter video game developed by Capcom Production Studio 4 and published by multiple publishers, including Capcom, Ubisoft, Nintendo Australia, Red Ant Enterprises and THQ Asia Pacific...


A viral marketing
Viral marketing
Viral marketing, viral advertising, or marketing buzz are buzzwords referring to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness or to achieve other marketing objectives through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of viruses...

 campaign ran prior to the release of Shadow of the Colossus
Shadow of the Colossus
Shadow of the Colossus, released in Japan as , is an action-adventure game published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 2. The game was released in North America and Japan in October 2005 and PAL territories in February 2006...

, stating the Colossi were actual real statues found by explorers and tourists.

In cross-marketing

There is a long history of producers creating tie-in material to promote and merchandise movies and television shows. Tie-in materials as far-ranging as toys, games, lunch boxes, clothing and so on have all been created and in some cases generate as much or more revenue as the original programming. One big merchandising arena is publishing. In most cases such material is not considered canon
Canon (fiction)
In the context of a work of fiction, the term canon denotes the material accepted as "official" in a fictional universe's fan base. It is often contrasted with, or used as the basis for, works of fan fiction, which are not considered canonical...

 within the show's mythology; however, in some instances the books, magazines, etc. are specifically designed by the creators to be canonical. With the rise of the Internet, in-canon online material has become more prominent.

The following is a list of "false document" in-canon supplemental material:
  • Twin Peaks
    Twin Peaks
    Twin Peaks is an American television serial drama created by David Lynch and Mark Frost. The series follows the investigation headed by FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper , of the murder of a popular teenager and homecoming queen, Laura Palmer...

    spawned three canon books
    Books of Twin Peaks
    Twin Peaks has spawned several successful books due to its success. During the show's second season, Pocket Books released three official tie-in books, each authored by the show's creators which offer a wealth of backstory....

    • The Autobiography of F.B.I. Special Agent Dale Cooper: My Life, My Tapes ISBN 0-671-74400-3
    • The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer
      The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer
      The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer is a 1990 spin-off novel from the television series Twin Peaks by Jennifer Lynch. Lynch, then aged 22, is the daughter of series co-creator David Lynch...

      ISBN 0-671-73590-X
    • Twin Peaks: An Access Guide to the Town ISBN 0-671-74399-6

Additionally, a set of trading cards was produced which are also canon.
  • Bad Twin ISBN 1-4013-0276-9 is a canon tie-in novel for the TV series Lost
    Lost (TV series)
    Lost is an American television series that originally aired on ABC from September 22, 2004 to May 23, 2010, consisting of six seasons. Lost is a drama series that follows the survivors of the crash of a commercial passenger jet flying between Sydney and Los Angeles, on a mysterious tropical island...

In politics

A forged document, the Zinoviev Letter
Zinoviev Letter
The "Zinoviev Letter" refers to a controversial document published by the British press in 1924, allegedly sent from the Communist International in Moscow to the Communist Party of Great Britain...

 brought about the downfall of the first Labour Government
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 in Britain. Conspiracies within secret intelligence services have occurred more recently, and led Harold Wilson
Harold Wilson
James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, KG, OBE, FRS, FSS, PC was a British Labour Member of Parliament, Leader of the Labour Party. He was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s, winning four general elections, including a minority government after the...

 in the 1960s to put in place rules to prevent phone tapping of members of parliament for example.


A number of hoax
A hoax is a deliberately fabricated falsehood made to masquerade as truth. It is distinguishable from errors in observation or judgment, or rumors, urban legends, pseudosciences or April Fools' Day events that are passed along in good faith by believers or as jokes.-Definition:The British...

es have involved false documents:
  • "Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity" by Alan Sokal, (Spring/Summer 1996 issue of Social Text). See Sokal Affair
    Sokal Affair
    The Sokal affair, also known as the Sokal hoax, was a publishing hoax perpetrated by Alan Sokal, a physics professor at New York University. In 1996, Sokal submitted an article to Social Text, an academic journal of postmodern cultural studies...

  • "The endochronic properties of resublimated thiotimoline
    Thiotimoline is a fictitious chemical compound conceived by science fiction author Isaac Asimov and first described in a spoof scientific paper titled "The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline" in 1948...

    ", Isaac Asimov.
  • Salamander Letter
    Salamander Letter
    The Salamander Letter was a document created by Mark Hofmann in the early 1980s.The letter was one of hundreds of documents concerning the history of Latter Day Saint movement that surfaced in the early 1980s...

  • Journal of Irreproducible Results
    Journal of Irreproducible Results
    The Journal of Irreproducible Results is a magazine of science humor. JIR was founded in Israel in 1955 by virologist Alexander Kohn and physicist Harry J. Lipkin, who wanted a humor magazine about science, for scientists. It contains a unique mix of jokes, satire of scientific practice, science...

  • The Report From Iron Mountain
    The Report From Iron Mountain
    The Report from Iron Mountain is a book published in 1967 by Dial Press which puts itself forth as the report of a government panel. The book includes the claim it was authored by a Special Study Group of fifteen men whose identities were to remain secret and that it was not intended to be made...

  • The Oera Linda
    Oera Linda
    The Oera Linda Book is a 19th century manuscript written in Old Frisian. It purports to cover historical, mythological, and religious themes of remote antiquity, compiled between 2194 BC and AD 803....

  • The Hitler Diaries
    Hitler Diaries
    In April 1983, the West German news magazine Stern published excerpts from what purported to be the diaries of Adolf Hitler, known as the Hitler Diaries , which were subsequently revealed to be forgeries...

  • The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
  • Les Dossiers Secrets d'Henri Lobineau
    Dossiers Secrets
    The Dossiers Secrets d'Henri Lobineau , compiled by Philippe Toscan du Plantier is a 27-page document deposited in the Bibliothèque nationale de France on 27 April 1967. The document purports to represent a part of the history of the Priory of Sion. The section of the history is attributed to...

As a field of study

False documents were recently the topic of a graduate level seminar in the humanities at the University of Michigan
University of Michigan
The University of Michigan is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States. It is the state's oldest university and the flagship campus of the University of Michigan...

. The seminar was taught by Professor Eileen Pollack
Eileen Pollack
Eileen Pollack is an American novelist, essayist, and short story writer. She is the director of the Master of Fine Arts Program at the University of Michigan...

. While the form has existed for at least two hundred years, focused study is fairly recent.

See also

  • Alternate reality game
    Alternate reality game
    An alternate reality game is an interactive narrative that uses the real world as a platform, often involving multiple media and game elements, to tell a story that may be affected by participants' ideas or actions....

  • A Racial Program for the Twentieth Century
    A Racial Program for the Twentieth Century
    A Racial Program for the Twentieth Century is an antisemitic hoax promoted by Eustace Mullins...

    , an anti-Semitic forgery
  • Conspiracy theory
    Conspiracy theory
    A conspiracy theory explains an event as being the result of an alleged plot by a covert group or organization or, more broadly, the idea that important political, social or economic events are the products of secret plots that are largely unknown to the general public.-Usage:The term "conspiracy...

  • Donation of Constantine
    Donation of Constantine
    The Donation of Constantine is a forged Roman imperial decree by which the emperor Constantine I supposedly transferred authority over Rome and the western part of the Roman Empire to the pope. During the Middle Ages, the document was often cited in support of the Roman Church's claims to...

  • Epistolary novel
    Epistolary novel
    An epistolary novel is a novel written as a series of documents. The usual form is letters, although diary entries, newspaper clippings and other documents are sometimes used. Recently, electronic "documents" such as recordings and radio, blogs, and e-mails have also come into use...

  • Falsification
    Falsification may refer to:* The act of disproving a proposition, hypothesis, or theory: see Falsifiability* Mathematical proof* Falsified evidence...

  • Fictional book
    Fictional book
    A fictional book is a book that sometimes provides the basis of the plot of a story, a common thread in a series of books, or the works of a particular writer or canon of work. A fictional book may also be used as a mode of conceit to illustrate a story within a story.-Prominent fictional...

  • Fictional guidebook
    Fictional guidebook
    Some fictional universes feature useful guidebooks which assist the hero and friends through difficult situations.Features of a great fictional guidebook: Such books are ideally compact enough to carry on even the most strenuous adventures, yet detailed enough to contain exactly the information the...

  • Forgery
    Forgery is the process of making, adapting, or imitating objects, statistics, or documents with the intent to deceive. Copies, studio replicas, and reproductions are not considered forgeries, though they may later become forgeries through knowing and willful misrepresentations. Forging money or...

  • Frame tale
  • Literary forgery
    Literary forgery
    Literary forgery refers to writing, such as a manuscript or a literary work either deliberately misattributed to a historical or invented author, or a purported memoir presented as genuine.- History :The common, or popularly known, instance of literary forgery may involve for example the work of a...

  • Literary technique
    Literary technique
    A literary technique is any element or the entirety of elements a writer intentionally uses in the structure of their work...

  • Fictitious entry
    Fictitious entry
    Fictitious entries, also known as fake entries, Mountweazels, ghost word and nihil articles, are deliberately incorrect entries or articles in reference works such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and directories. Entries in reference works normally originate from a reliable external source,...

  • Questioned document examination
    Questioned document examination
    Questioned document examination is the forensic science discipline pertaining to documents that are in dispute in a court of law...

  • Urban legend
    Urban legend
    An urban legend, urban myth, urban tale, or contemporary legend, is a form of modern folklore consisting of stories that may or may not have been believed by their tellers to be true...

  • Voynich manuscript
    Voynich manuscript
    The Voynich manuscript, described as "the world's most mysterious manuscript", is a work which dates to the early 15th century, possibly from northern Italy. It is named after the book dealer Wilfrid Voynich, who purchased it in 1912....

  • Mockumentary
    A mockumentary , is a type of film or television show in which fictitious events are presented in documentary format. These productions are often used to analyze or comment on current events and issues by using a fictitious setting, or to parody the documentary form itself...

  • April Fools' Day RFC
    April Fools' Day RFC
    Almost every April Fools' Day since 1989, the Internet Engineering Task Force has published one or more humorous RFC documents, following in the path blazed by the June 1973 RFC 527 entitled ARPAWOCKY, which parodied Lewis Carroll's nonsense poem Jabberwocky...

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