As a shock to absolutely no one, Monk's story held water for approximately 0.2 seconds, as all the decidedly un-sexed nuns and priests in the described area started wondering where all this cloth-boning was taking place, and (presumably) why nobody had told them. Monk (or rather, her ghost writer) had also thoroughly confused even the most basic facts about the convents in the area, which led most scholars to quickly dismiss the book as a fabricated fairy tale.
However, its legacy was not so easily squashed. Even back then, a certain segment of the population was Fox-News-minded enough to swallow (and, more harmfully, spread) even the most easily-spotted bullshit as fact. Maria's tale gained a life of its own, and went on to become one of those "everybody knows it's true" facts that are almost never actually true. Monk's stories had gained enough traction that they acquired a life of their own as blunt instruments in political and religious debate between protestants and Catholics.
As for Monk herself, all this did jack shit of good. She spent the remainder of her unfortunately short life periodically throwing more and more diluted accusations at the Church, but she was so thoroughly discredited that the people riding on her stories didn't actually need her anymore. And that, friends, is why it's unwise to publish bullshit.
Richard Penn Smith Cemented Davy Crockett's Legacy With A Quickly Written Fabrication
Ah, Davy Crockett. One of the foremost frontier heroes from back when America was positively teeming with them. His wilderness shenanigans, heroic demise at the Alamo, and general manly manliness have inspired entire generations, and are the third most likely reason your grandfather sometimes wears that creepy-ass coonskin cap. Though he wasn't aware of it at the time, Crockett spent his entire life cementing his legendary status in the American lore. Which makes it pretty funny that a hack writer named Richard Penn Smith achieved the exact same thing in just 24 hours.
In 1836, small-time writer Smith, whose newspaper column was called The Plagiarist (note to humanity: learn to take a fucking hint), churned out a supposedly autobiographic book titled Col. Crockett's Exploits And Adventures In Texas: Wherein Is Contained A Full Account Of His Journey From Tennessee To The Red River And Natchitoches, And Thence Across Texas To San Antonio; Including Many Hair-Breadth Escapes; Together With A Topographical, Historical, And Political View Of Texas ... Written By Himself, presumably because This Is Totally A Truthful Account And A Real Book Written By Davy Crockett, NOT By Richard Penn Smith was already taken. The book, which you can read right here, was supposedly found after the Alamo, and it contained Crockett's own thoughts about, well, pretty much everything up until then. It also heavily played up Crockett's badassitude, really turning him into the legend we would see him as.
Konstantin Grishin/Hemera/Getty Images
"Stamps are fine and all, but could you for once call me 'David' instead of that dumbfuck nickname?"
The Totally Not Fake Davy Crockett Journal By The Man Himself And Not Me, Richard Penn Smith became a roaring success, and came to influence both the public image of the heroic Crockett and the scholars' view of the historical events it described for decades, even after Smith was outed as the true author 50 years after the initial publication. One 24-hour period rife with plagiarism and outright lies turned Davy Crockett from an American hero to an American legend.
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