Three thousand British teenagers were polled about their knowledge of history and a fifth of them came back saying that Sir Winston Churchill was a fictional character, according to the Telegraph. (Sir Winston's response to these teens is notated in the photo shown.)
Also staggeringly off-base are the following findings:
- Richard the Lionheart thought fictional by 47%
- Florence Nightingale thought fictional by 27%
- King Arthur thought real by 65%
- Sherlock Holmes thought real by 58%
- Robin Hood thought real by 51%
- Eleanor Rigby thought real by 47%
While it is a bit wild to think Sir Winston and other real people are thought fictional (did they think World War II was a BBC miniseries...?), I can almost go along with the idea that somebody could believe King Arthur and Sherlock Holmes were real. Because they, along with Robin Hood, are absolutely pervasive in fiction. Hell, King Arthur has a brand of flour named after him. Anyway, they're inescapable; even the people who have never read their stories or flat out don't read at all can tell you the basic premise behind the characters.
But Eleanor Rigby?! She was in a song by The Beatles! She came out of Paul McCartney's head! Don't get me wrong, the song is absofreaking brilliant and I love it to bits, but thinking she was real? Oh come on.
Incredulity aside, I'm sure if you did that same poll over here in the States you'd find most kids thought Benjamin Franklin was fictional, Charlie Brown was real, and that Maggie's Farm was the place where they made the sausages for McDonald's breakfast sandwiches. So.