Collecting the American West - The Rise and Fall of William Blackmore

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19th Century

Anthony Hamber

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A saga of 19th century adventurism spanning the Atlantic and offering a fascinating insight into American history. William Blackmore, an English lawyer and financier who led an extraordinary life, full of theatrical incidents, financial skulduggery and an illicit affaire.



Short Summary

Blackmore was a lawyer in Liverpool (UK) and became the middle man selling vast tracts of the American West to Europeans. Facinated by American Natives, with his great wealth buys important archaeological collections and uses photography to document them.

Blackmore overstretches himself financially, unable to pay his creditors he goes bankrupt and commits suicide in 1878, and is buried in an unmarked grave. His brother struggles to save his investments but almost all of William's legacy disappears.


Liverpool, London, New York, Washington, California, New Mexico and the American West including Montana.

Based on a True Story


Plot - Premise


Plot - Other Elements


Mature Audience Themes

Substance Abuse

Main Character Details

Name: William Blackmore

Age: 57 at the time of death

Gender: Male

Role: Protagonist

Key Traits: Adventurous,Charming,Complex,Confident,Decisive,Desperate,Greedy,Educated,Skillful,Visionary,Romantic

Additional Character Details

The author has not yet written this

Additional Character Details

The author has not yet written this

Additional Character Details

The author has not yet written this

Development Pitch

Each phase and aspect of Blackmore's life has significant theatricality. Madoff meets Dances with Wolves. When reading the book, almost every page of the book has rich and theatrical scenes worthy of dramatisation. - his social conscience in, as a boy, going to teach reading and writing to the poor children in his home town - His meeting Brigham Young - while undertaking a secret mission for the UK government to report on the Mormons - His building of a social network - dining at the White House - meeting with Union generals during the US Civil War - befriending the Smithsonian Institution - His friendship with Native Americans - a hysterically amusing record of a meal with Red Cloud and other Native American delegates aboard a steamer on the Potomac in 1872 - His innovatory exploitation of photography - His financial wheeler-dealing and skulduggery with leading American and European bankers and a range of investors. - His exploration of the untamed West, initially hunting the animal inhabitants and then having a Road to Damascus conversion to becoming an environmentalist - His end - fighting to save his business interests, investments, failing, going bankrupt, and committing suicide (a "double whammy" that Victorian society at its morals found unacceptable)

About The Author

An independent historian who has published extensively on the history of photography in the 19th century. An expert on the BBC "Fake or Fortune" series.

Target Audiences

Age: 35-54

Target Gender: Universal

Group Specific

Americans living in the Mid and South west

Publishing Details

Status: Yes: with a Publisher

Publisher: Hobnob Press

Year Published: 2010

Hard Copy Available