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Friday, August 24, 2018

Iron Mask:Harry Bensley's "Walking Round the World" Hoax

On 1 January 1908, in London's Trafalgar Square, a man in an old-fashioned iron helmet began an adventure that was to take him to 172 towns and cities in the United Kingdom before heading overseas to visit another 118 cities in Canada, USA, South America, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Japan, China, India, Egypt and seven European countries.

Although independently wealthy, the man in the iron mask was allowed to finance his trip only through the sale of postcards and pamphlets relating to his journey from a pram that he was to push for the duration of the journey and at no point was he allowed to reveal his identity. The final challenge was that, despite keeping his face hidden, he had to find a wife.

This astonishing journey was the result of a $100,000 (£21,000) bet between the Earl of Lonsdale and steel and banking magnate J. P. Morgan and the daring masked man had almost completed the round the world trip six years later and was on the point of collecting what would today be the equivalent of £2,250,000 when the bet was cancelled.

This is the story of that journey.

This is also the story of how Harry Bensley, released from jail for fraud and bigamy, dreamed up an astonishing hoax. Disguised behind his iron mask, Bensley trekked south from London, along the southern counties and into the west country, visiting towns, attracting crowds and selling his postcards. He claimed to have met and married a woman, although she was already known to him. He was even tried in a court of law without once giving his real name.

Iron Mask is the story of that journey, too!

This book takes a look behind the legend of the "Walking Round the World" hoax, revealing the impoverished origins of Bensley and his family and documenting a criminal path that was the lead to his most audacious deception.


Amazon - 5 stars
The story sounds like an implausible Hollywood film but it was true! Who was the Man in the Iron Mask (no, not the French novel by Dumas!)? He set off from Trafalgar Square to push a pram around the world in January 1908 to win a £20,000 bet! he seems to have been a lovable rogue and this was not the first time he had hoodwinked people! I won't say more so I don't spoil the story as it's wilder than even this!
    Steve Holland has preserved a wonderful British eccentric's story for us all to enjoy. Give it as a Birthday or Christmas present to anyone who's curious about people in any way!

"Iron Mask" The story of Harry Bensley's "Walking Round the World" hoax is available as both a Kindle ebook and a trade paperback via Amazon.

Available in these territories: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon ES | Amazon IT | Amazon NL | Amazon JP | Amazon BR | Amazon CA | Amazon MX | Amazon AU | Amazon IN

Available in these territories: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon ES | Amazon IT | Amazon JP

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