What do you call the storytelling trick of smuggling fiction into nonfiction references?
Mountweazel is one term. That's the name of a character, Lillian Virginia Mountweazel, described by a fake biography (mailbox artist, died by an explosion while on assignment for Combustibles magazine). She ended up in the 1974 New Columbia Encyclopedia. The New Yorker explains this as a deliberate trick, aimed at foiling copyright pirates. "“If someone copied Lillian, then we’d know they’d stolen from us.”
That's actually a genre, the copyright trap. Think about that, a surreptitious literary genre based on hoaxing, and going back some time. Also from the New Yorker:
“It was an old tradition in encyclopedias to put in a fake entry to protect your copyright,” Richard Steins, who was one of the volume’s editors, said the other day.
Has anyone written a history of these? When was the first - did Diderot's crew do it, or Mercator?
There are examples of mountweazeling fiction in fiction. The Borges story, for example, and Grant Morrison's comic riff on it.
This historical practice is clearly fine alternate reality game (ARG) antecedent fodder.
(via Meine Kleine Fabrik, which everyone should read)