Nestled among the bronze statues of famed wordsmiths like William Shakespeare and Walter Scott along Literary Walk is the statue of Fitz-Greene Halleck (1790-1867). Though not as famous as the other authors along the Walk, Halleck was a well known and published poet and lyricist and respected member of New York society.
Halleck was also a member of the prestigious Knickerbocker Group, which to the outside world was a club made up of some of the greatest literary minds in America. But what few people know is the Knickerbocker Group was actually a consortium of the worlds greatest supervillians determined to conquer the world!
Founded in the 1830’s by a trifecta of diabolical criminal masterminds, The Knickerbocker Group was commanded by Washington “Iceman” Irving, James Fenimore Cooper (AKA Merciless Jim) and William Cullen Bryant, known by many as Bryant the Tyrant. The Group met often in secret lairs around New York City to discuss their horrific plans for overthrowing governments and plundering the vast wealth of nations. Halleck, or “Hardcore Halleck” as he was known in the group, served as group secretary and henchman recruiter.
Membership to this consortium of evil geniuses was invitation only. Potential members faced rigorous physical and mental tests, and since most candidates were from the literary world, had to submit either an essay or poem on why they wanted to subjugate mankind. Halleck, who had a hand in the recruitment process, was quoted as saying potential member Henry Wadsworth Longfellow submitted a poem that was “a phenomenal combination of sweeping lyrical verse and megalomaniacal lunacy.”
Sadly, this cadre of sinister geniuses never achieved their goal of ruling the world, but the literary magazine (also named The Knickerbocker), which was a front for their criminal organization, was a big success. Halleck and the other evil members of The Knickerbocker Group had to settle for merely ruling the literary community of New York City, which is not nearly as cool as it sounds.