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Knickerbocker's History of New York, Vol. 2

By: Washington Irving

A History of New York, subtitled From the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, is an 1809 literary parody on the history of New York City by Washington Irving. Originally published under the pseudonym Diedrich Knickerbocker, later editions that acknowledged Irving's authorship were printed as Knickerbocker's History of New York.

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.

Books in 'Knickerbocker's History of New York' series
  1. Knickerbocker's History of New York, Vol. 1 by Washington Irving
  2. Knickerbocker's History of New York, Vol. 2 by Washington Irving

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Washington Irving

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Irving is largely credited as the first American Man of Letters and the first to earn his living solely by his pen. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow acknowledged Irving's role in promoting American literatu...

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