It started as a
search for heroes.
It became a hunt
for the most elusive equestrian charlatan of all time.
If Frank Hopkins
is to be believed, he led one of the most exciting, challenging and colorful
(albeit unrecorded) lives in the late nineteenth century. No one rode more
miles, eluded more danger, or befriended more famous people than he did.
During the 1930s
and 40s the self-proclaimed legend told a naïve American public that he had
won nearly five hundred endurance races, including an imaginary race across
Arabia on a mythical mustang named “Hidalgo.”
remarkable career supposedly began when he became a dispatch rider for the
US government on his twelfth birthday in 1877. According to his mythology,
this Renaissance Man of the Old West went on to work as a buffalo hunter,
Indian fighter, African explorer, endurance racer, trick rider, bounty
hunter, Rough Rider, big game guide, secret agent, Pinkerton detective and
star of the Wild West show.
Experts beg to
contains an unprecedented study, undertaken by more than seventy experts in
five countries, ranging from the Curator of the Buffalo Bill Museum to the
former Sultan of Yemen. These academics investigated the historical
improbability of Hopkins’ claims and weighed him on his merit, not his myth.
exhaustive study revealed that Hopkins had maintained a spirited disregard
for the truth, plagiarized material from famous authors, slandered genuine
American heroes and perpetrated a massive fraud for nearly one hundred
Far from being
the star of Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show for 32 years, for example,
the counterfeit cowboy was discovered working as a subway tunnel digger in
Philadelphia and a horse-handler for Ringling Brothers Circus.
It is his
endurance racing pretensions, however, that have brought Hopkins his
greatest notoriety and made him the hero of a Hollywood movie. Yet there is
not even a documented photograph of Frank Hopkins in the saddle!
Here then are all the known
writings of Frank T. Hopkins, published in their entirety for the first time