Knickerbocker's History of New York, Vol. 1
'Knickerbocker's History of New York, Vol. 1' Summary
Irving had previously published his compilation of sketches Letters of Jonathan Oldstyle, Gent. (1802) and headed a short-lived periodical called Salmagundi (1807–1808). He completed his satirical A History of New York in 1809 after the death of his 17-year-old fiancée Matilda Hoffman. It was his first major book and a satire on local history and contemporary politics. Before its publication, Irving started a hoax by placing a series of missing person advertisements in New York newspapers seeking information on Diedrich Knickerbocker, a Dutch historian who had allegedly gone missing from his hotel in New York City. As part of this guerilla marketing ruse, he placed a notice from the hotel's proprietor informing readers that, if Mr. Knickerbocker failed to return to the hotel to pay his bill, he would publish a manuscript that Knickerbocker had left behind.
Unsuspecting readers followed the story of Knickerbocker and his manuscript with interest, and some New York city officials were concerned enough about the missing historian to offer a reward for his safe return. Irving then published A History of New York on December 6, 1809 under the Knickerbocker pseudonym, with immediate critical and popular success. "It took with the public", Irving remarked, "and gave me celebrity, as an original work was something remarkable and uncommon in America". The name Diedrich Knickerbocker became a nickname for Manhattan residents in general and was adopted by the New York Knickerbockers basketball team.
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