At one time pretty much everyone know the name of Horace de Vere Cole, the greatest practical joker ever. Importantly, there has never been a full biographer of this fascinating character, because his family have, until now, denied access to his papers. Here, Downer has the full cooperation of the family. Cole's comic inventiveness was extraordinary - he once organised a party in which all the guests had the word ''bottom'' in their surname (Winterbottom for example). Much more than a catalogue of his pranks though, this biography is a fascinating glimpse into a fascinating man.