Writers’ Wednesday – Frontier Fake News

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Event Series Event Series: Writers’ Wednesday

October 11, 2023 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

Writers’ Wednesday

October 11, 2023
5:00 – 5:30 pm – Book signing and wine/cheese Reception
5:30 – 6:30 pm – Lecture

This month’s book is called “Frontier Fake News: Nevada’s Sagebrush Humorists and Hoaxsters” published by the University of Nevada Press with historian and author, Richard Moreno who will discuss his book.

Summary of Talk

Frontier Fake News Book

When readers see the names Mark Twain and Dan De Quille, fake news may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But these legendary journalists were some of the original, and most prolific, fake news writers in the early years of Nevada’s history. Frontier Fake News puts a spotlight on the hoaxes, feuds, pranks, outright lies, witty writing, and other literary devices utilized by a number of the Silver State’s frontier newsmen from the mid-nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries. Often known collectively as the Sagebrush School, these journalists were opinionated, talented, and individualistic.

While Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), who got his start at Virginia City’s Territorial Enterprise, and Dan De Quille (William Wright), who some felt was a better writer than Twain, are the most well-known members of the Sagebrush School, author Richard Moreno includes others such as Fred Hart, who concocted a fake social club and reported on its gatherings for Austin’s Reese River Reveille, and William Forbes, who enjoyed sprinkling clever puns with political undertones in his newspaper articles.

Moreno traces the beginnings of genuine fake news from founding father Benjamin Franklin’s “Supplement to the Boston Independent Chronicle, Number 705, March 1782,” a fake newspaper aimed at swaying British public opinion, to the fake news articles of New York and Baltimore papers in the early 1800s. But these examples are only a prelude to the amazing accounts of petrified men, freeze-inducing solar armor, magically magnetic rocks, blood-curdling massacres, and other nonsense stories that appeared in Nevada’s frontier newspapers and beyond.

Author Bio

Richard Moreno is the former publisher of Nevada Magazine and author of fourteen books, including Roadside History of Nevada, A Short History of Carson City, and A Short History of Reno. For more than three decades, he has written a weekly history/travel column that appears in the Lahontan Valley News and the Nevada Appeal. In 2007, Moreno was awarded the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Silver Pen Award.

The Writers’ Wednesday Lecture Series, held the second Wednesday of each month, features a different author who takes part in a book signing, a presentation and a question-and-answer session with the audience. A wine and cheese reception precedes the lecture.

The intent of the program is to highlight writers who specifically focus on Nevada, the Great Basin, or the West in general. The authors talk about the content of their books but also share details about the creative process.

Make sure to arrive early as we have limited seating available in our Event Space. Don’t forget, we provide free, temporary parking permits to make it easier to visit NHS!


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1650 N. Virginia Street
Reno, NV 89503 United States
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Phone: 775-688-1190