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Diedrich Knickerbocker was born c. 1784 in the Netherlands
. A scholar and an eccentric, he travelled to New York City
sometime in the early 1800s. At this time he began work on his first book, A History of New-York From the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty
. He completed the manuscript in late 1809, and promptly vanished without a trace from the Columbian Hotel where he had been staying, leaving the completed manuscript behind.
Diedrich Knickerbocker was created by American author Washington Irving. In 1809, Irving created a viral marketing hoax to stir up interest in his novel, the satirical History of New-York
, which he intended to publish under the Knickerbocker pseudonym. To this end, he placed several missing person notices in the local newspapers, as well as notice from the fictional landlord of the rooms that Knickerbocker had supposedly abandoned that, should Knickerbocker not return and pay his bill, he intended to publish the manuscript that had been left behind. The campaign was extremely successful, capturing the interest of many New Yorkers, and provoking enough concern that some New York authorities considered offering a reward for information leading to his safe return. The hoax lasted for several months, during which the book was published to great success and acclaim.