The Zanzibar Hoax
My thanks again to Brenda for telling me about this prank. Without her, my Virginia A to Z would have been a letter short and would have ended with ‘Y’.
The Zanzibar Hoax took place in 1905 and was the idea of an eccentric prankster named Horace de Vere Cole who was great friends with Virginia’s brother Adrian. Adrian joined Horace in his prank of pretending to be the Sultan Of Zanzibar visiting Cambridge University. Adrian was perhaps part of his delegation while Horace was the man himself.
The real Sultan was on an official Royal Visit to London so it wasn’t too much of a leap of imagination to think he may attend an ‘unofficial’ ceremonial visit to Cambridge as well. He certainly fooled the Mayor of Cambridge but he didn’t make it to Buckingham Palace like the real Sultan did.
This period of time, the early 1900s was quite a time for practical jokes and Horace’s aim was to poke fun at the establishment and at pompous authority figures. He loved the theatre and loved dressing up; Vanessa thought he was creepy; me too.