knickerbocker_1849.jpgTwo hundred years ago today, a volume went on sale with the following title:

A History of New-York, from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty; Containing, among Many Surprising and Curious Matters, the Unutterable Ponderings of Walter the Doubter, the Disastrous Projects of William the Testy, and the Chivalric Achievements of Peter the Headstrong — The Three Dutch Governors of New Amsterdam: Being the Only Authentic History of the Times that Ever Hath Been or Ever Will Be Published.

The volume, ostensibly by one Diedrich Knickerbocker, whose supposed disappearance had been publicized in the pages of the Evening Post, was in fact the work of a young lawyer-turned-writer named Washington Irving. The book was well reviewed on both sides of the Atlantic and made Irving a literary star.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

[The image above did not accompany the original edition, but was commissioned for the new edition of 1849.]