Washington Irving was born on April 3, 1783 in Manhattan, New York City. He was the youngest of eleven children born from his parents, William and Sarah Irving. During the week in which he was born, the Americans emerged victorious in the Revolutionary War and his parents named him after the war hero, General George Washington. When Irving was six-years-old, he met his namesake and Washington blessed the child, which sparked a sense of gratitude and interest in the president. This encounter would inspire Irving to write his five volume biography on George Washington, which was completed in 1859.
Washington Irving grew up in a wealthy merchant family and he received a good education, although he was an uninterested student. In his early teenage years he would often skip class to attend plays at theaters. During his free time, Irving would read tirelessly and explore the nearby Hudson River Valley. Both contributed to his ever growing imagination. His ventures in the valley also exposed him to local myths and folktales, which are lucidly displayed in his short stories. In 1798, Yellow Fever broke out in Manhattan and Irving’s family sent him to live with James Paulding in Yorktown, away from the disease. While there, he familiarized himself with the Dutch town of Sleepy Hollow and became fascinated with their ghost stories. Irving based perhaps his most famous work, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” on his experiences there. During his childhood, he also took adventures through the Hudson River Valley to Johnstown New York and the Catskill Mountains, which became the setting for another of his short stories, “Rip Van Winkle.”
At age nineteen Washington Irving began his literary career by writing t...
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...literature and society, some of which can still be seen today. In the same way that the headless horseman lives as the ghost of the fallen soldier, Washington Irving’s legacy lives on through the ideas he has implanted deep into American culture.
Canby, Henry S. “Washington Irving.” World Literature Criticism. Ed. James P. Draper. Detroit:
Gale Research Inc., 1992. Print.
Irving, Washington. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. New york: William Morrow and Company Inc.,
Irving, Washington. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories. New York: Airmont Publishing
Co., 1964. Print.
Wagenknecht, Edward. “Washington Irving.” World Literature Criticism. Ed. James P. Draper.
Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1992. Print.
"Washington Irving." UXL Junior DISCovering Authors. Detroit: U*X*L, 2003. Student Resources
in Context. Web. 23 Oct. 2013.
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