A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder is the most popular book by James De Mille. It was serialized posthumously and anonymously in Harper's Weekly, and published in book form by Harper and Brothers of New York City during 1888. It was serialized subsequently in the United Kingdom and Australia, and published in book form in the United Kingdom and Canada. Later editions were published from the plates of the Harper and Brothers first edition, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The satiric and fantastic romance is set in an imaginary semi-tropical land in Antarctica inhabited by prehistoric monsters and a cult of death-worshipers called the Kosekin. Begun many years before it was published, it is reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket and anticipates the exotic locale and fantasy-adventure elements of works of the "Lost World genre" such as Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World, Edgar Rice Burroughs' The Land That Time Forgot, as well as innumerable prehistoric world movies based loosely on these and other works. The title and locale were inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's Ms. Found in a Bottle.
It was unfortunate for De Mille's reputation as a writer that this work, his best, was published after She and King Solomon's Mines, for although H. Rider Haggard's works were well known by then, the actual composition of De Mille's romance pre-dated the publication of the popular romances and his ideas were not in the least derivative from Haggard's better known works.