Washington Irving

Burial Location Visited
Sleepy Hollow, New York May 22, 2010


Washington Irving, the famous 19th century                                              Sleepy Hollow, New York was
author and essayist, is one of several people                                              called North Tarrytown until
of note interred in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery                                                1996 when residents voted to
in Sleepy Hollow, New York.                                                                     change the village's name and
                                                                                                             honor Irving.


Aside from writing "The Legend of Sleepy                                   Crouching by the grave of the author, who
Hollow", Irving is renowned for penning the                                passed away in 1859.
short story "Rip Van Winkle".

                                       *** Interesting Facts ***

* The story of Washington Irving began with his birth on April 3, 1783 in Manhattan. Hailed as the first major American author, he was named after George Washington by his mother. When he was a young boy, he had the privilege of watching his namesake sworn in as the first president of the United States, as he lived not too far from Federal Hall, where the inauguration took place. Irving was not very interested in studying during his childhood, but was fascinated by theater, often sneaking out of his house to watch a play. He also enjoyed reading, with Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe among his favorites.

* In November of 1802, when he was nineteen years old, Irving submitted the first of a series of letters to the New York Morning Chronicle under the pseudonym Jonathan Oldstyle. The letters, of which there were nine in total, humorously criticized topics such as marriage, fashion, and dueling. At about this time, Irving was apprenticed to the law office of Josiah Ogden Hoffman, serving as a clerk. He would become engaged to Hoffman's daughter years later, but she died before the two could be wed. In ill health, he set sail for Europe in 1804. While abroad, Irving learned how to speak French and had an active social life. With his health improved, he returned to the USA in 1806 and passed the bar.

* With his brother William and James Kirke Paulding, Irving published a periodical under the title of Salmagundi; or, The Whim-Whams and Opinions of Launcelot Langstaff, Esq. & Others. Salmagundi, which lampooned society and culture, lasted from 1807 to 1808. In the same satirical style, Irving wrote the book A History of New-York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, by Diedrich Knickerbocker, which was released in 1809. When the country became embroiled in a second war with Britain in 1812, Irving was opposed to the conflict. The burning of the capital by the British would prove to change his mind, though, and he subsequently served as an aid to Governor Daniel D. Tompkins, who commanded the New York State Militia. He left for England the following year to help a floundering branch of his family's mercantile business and remained in Europe for nearly two decades.

* It was during his stay in England that Irving released The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., a collection of various essays and short stories that he had penned. Among the thirty-four writings in the book were what would turn out to be two classics: "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow". "Rip Van Winkle" tells the story of a man who helps a mysterious stranger carry a keg of liquor up the Catskill Mountains. Van Winkle later drinks some of the liquor and proceeds to grow tired and fall asleep. When he awakens, he shockingly learns that he slept for a period of twenty years. The other tale, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", concerns a school teacher named Ichabod Crane who is terrorized by "the Headless Horseman", a hessian soldier who is decapitated during the Revolutionary War and searches for a head to replace his own. Both stories are set in small, misty villages near the Hudson River, much likes the ones that intrigued Irving during his youth.

* After the success of The Sketch Book, Irving wrote Bracebridge Hall, or, The Humorists, A Medley and Tales of a Traveller, just a few of several books he completed around this time. When Irving went to Spain in 1826, he did extensive research on explorer Christopher Columbus and penned a book on him. He went back to England in 1829 when he was made the secretary of the U.S. legation in London. The author voyaged home to America in 1832 and purchased a cottage in Tarrytown, New York that he dubbed Sunnyside. A decade later, in 1842, President John Tyler appointed Irving minister to Spain, and he served in that capacity for four years before once again returning home in 1846. As his health declined in the 1850's, Irving worked on several more pieces, including an extensive five volume biography of George Washington. He finished the final volume a few months before his death at Sunnyside in 1859.

Spouse: None

Last Words:
 "Well, I must arrange my pillows for another night. When will this 
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