Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A very Victorian hoax! Greyfriars Bobby who kept vigil over his master's grave for 14 years was 'a publicity stunt'


Tributes: The grave put up in memory of Greyfriars Bobby, left, and a painting of the 'second' Bobby, right

He is the epitome of canine loyalty, Bobby the Skye terrier who kept a vigil at his master's grave for 14 years.

But now the world-famous story of Greyfriars Bobby has been revealed as a clever Victorian publicity stunt.

The heart-warming story of Greyfriars Bobby tells of a small Skye terrier who couldn't bear to leave his master's body and remained by his grave in Edinburgh from 1858 to 1872.

The faithful canine has been immortalised in numerous books and films over the years - and even has his own memorial for tourists to flock to.

Hoax: The memorial statue of Greyfriars Bobby in Edinburgh. New research has revealed the tale of the faithful dog to be a publicity stunt by local businesses

But an academic has now discovered the legend to be fake after spending five years researching archives on the subject.

Dr Jan Bondeson claims Bobby was in fact two dogs and that their master wasn't buried in the graveyard in Edinburgh at all.

The real Bobby died in 1867 and was swapped with a younger model to keep visitors streaming to the area to view the legend, his studies have suggested.

He believes the idea was the brainchild of local businesses, who profited greatly from the tiny dog's fame.

Study: The cover of Jan Bondeson's new book, left, and a drawing of the dog completed in 1918

Dr Bondeson, a historian and senior lecturer at Cardiff University, has uncovered contemporary archives which show the first dog had no owner and was in fact a stray which wandered into the neighbourhood.

A witness account states the animal was lifted into Greyfriars cemetery by the gardener of the nearby Heriot's hospital who was sick of it trespassing on his grounds.

After that James Brown, the curator of the cemetery, repeatedly fed Bobby and treated him so well the pooch set up home there.

Good story nonetheless: A still from the 1961 Disney film Greyfriars Bobby: The True Story Of A Dog - just one of the films made about the legend of the cemetery-dwelling Skye terrier

A dog's life: In the Disney film the dog falls foul of Edinburgh dog catchers and has to be rescued by some kind children

'It won't ever be possible to debunk the story of Greyfriars Bobby - he's a living legend, the most faithful dog in the world, and bigger than all of us.

'But I hope my research will help shed light on the truth behind the story, and finally allow Bobby to stand up on his Edinburgh monument, and free himself of the Victorian conventions of how a dog should behave.'

Publicity stunt: The Greyfriars Cemetery in Edinburgh

source: dailymail

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