Washington Irving

Washington Irving was an American writer and the first U.S. Author to achieve international renown. He was the creator of such fictional characters as Ichabod Crane and Rip Van Winkle. Irving was born on April 30th, 1738 in New York City. He went to private schools and studied law. After graduation, he served in several law offices. Because of his health, he traveled across the Europe from 1804 to 1806, when he was eventually admitted to the bar.

But his interest in law wasn't deep. It wasn't long-lasting either. At that time, he began to write and send satirical essays and sketches to New York newspapers. A group of these pieces, written from 1802 to 1803 and collected under the title, "Letters of Jonathan Oldstyle", Gent' won for Irving his earliest literary recognition. From 1807 to 1808 he was the leading figure in a social group that included his brother William Irving (1766-1821) and Peter Irving (1771-1838) and his brother-in-law, James Kirke Paulding. Together they wrote "Salmagundi or, The Whim-Whams and Opinions of Launcelot Langstaff, Esq. and others". This was a series of satirical essays and poems on New York society. Irving's contributions to this miscellany established his reputation as an essayist and his wit. This reputation was enhanced bu his next work, "A History of New York" (1809), ostensibly written by Irving's famous comic creation, the Dutch-American scholar Diedrich Knickerbocker.

In 1815, Irving went to Liverpool, England as a silent partner in his brother's commercial firm. After a series of losses, the business soon went under and Irving returned to writing. It was in England that he wrote "The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent", which contained one of his most famous works, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow".

From 1826 to 1829 he was a member of the staff of the US legation in Madrid, Spain. It was during this period that he wrote several historical works.
In 1832, after an absence of 17 years, Irving returned to the US where he was welcomed as a figure of national importance. In 1846, he settled at Sunnyside, his country home near Tarrytown, NY. There he remained until his death in November of 1859 at age 76. He was buried in Sleepy Hollow cemetery.

Rip Van Winkle

"Rip Van Winkle" is a short story written by the American author Washington Irving and published in 1819. The story was originally published as part of a collection called "The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent". The story was written while Irving was living in Birmingham, England. The story was one of the biggest successes of the collection and has since been adapted into plays, … [Read more...]

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is a short story that was published in 1820 by American author Washington Irving. The story was originally included in a collection of his essays and short stories called "The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent". The story was a standout in the collection and has since been adapted many, many times in film, television, plays, musicals, and audio dramas. … [Read more...]