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The American Romantic Movement

Washington Irving

Edgar Allan Poe
Henry David Thoreau
Harriot Beecher Stowe
Walt Whitman
Emily Dickinson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Margaret Fuller
Herman Melville
James Fenimore Cooper
Washington Irving

Washington Irving

The First Ray of Light; An Examination of Washington Irving's Relation to the Romantic Movement




            This paper examines the American Romantic Movement, in combination with the life and works of Washington Irving, to prove that though Irving was not entirely a member of the Romantic Movement, his work shared characteristics with the work of the Romantics, as both Irving and the Romantics wrote in protest of the some of the same things; namely, development, rationality, materialism, and the fraudulence of American society.

            The paper is organized into 3 main sections. The first, titled “American Romanticism,” explains what the Romantics wrote in protest of. The second, titled “In Life,” provides an overview of Irving’s life and works, and serves to a certain extent to demonstrate that Irving wrote in protest of the same things as the Romantics. The third and most important section, titled “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” analyses Irving’s famous short story to incontrovertible prove the thesis of this paper.  


From Sunnyside


            As Washington Irving spent the final years of his life at Sunnyside, his country home near Tarrytown, New York, he undoubtedly reflected on the past. It is certain that from Sunnyside, he looked back to the vapid darkness of the pre-1820s American literary scene and mused over the sunrise of the American Romantic Movement. It is also certain that he thought about his own contribution to the “American (literary) Renaissance” that was, as a result of the Romantic Movement, now underway.

            Washington Irving had been a harbinger, and to some extent an impetus of the American Romantic Movement. Though by no means a full fledged member of the movement (though a minority of scholars argue otherwise), Irving’s writings share a number of characteristics with the work of Romantic authors and poets. The majority of these shared characteristics relate to the purpose of the writings. A brief look at the Romantic Movement, in combination with an in-depth examination of Irving’s life and works serve to reveal that Irving and the Romantics wrote in protest of some of the same things, including rationality, materialism, the fraudulent nature of American society, and development.


American Romanticism


            As the rationality of the Age of Enlightenment continued to exert a profound influence on American culture, Romanticism formed in protest. American culture had turned “…to materialism and a focus on business at the cost of mind and spirit (Woodlief, 2005).” Much of the United States was undergoing rapid urbanization (Moss and Wilson, 1997). American religion had been sapped of its spirituality, leaving it feeling “…cold and dry (Woodlief, 2005).”   Science seemed to have replaced religion as the primary source of explanation for the workings of the world, thereby manifesting a cold vastness that arose out of revelations of mans ignorance (Woodlief, 2005). The divides between the guarantees of American Democracy, and the reality many were forced to face, and the glorious history many believed America to have, and the rather inglorious reality that actually constituted America’s past, inspired indignancy at the fraudulent nature of American society. Romanticism came about to some extent, to counter America’s embrace of materialism, development, rationality, and fraud.


In Life


Nearly forty years prior to the start of the America Romantic Movement, on April 3, 1773, Washington Irving was born in New York, New York. He grew up as the youngest child in a large family, which, as a result of his father’s career as a merchant, was quite financially comfortable (Hedges, 2004). At around the age of 18, Irving decided to apprentice to a lawyer rather than go to college. His apprenticeship was cut short by health issues that necessitated a two year stay in Europe.

Despite this, when Irving returned home to New York in late 1806, he was able to pass the bar. Yet Irving had only a very transient interest in Law (Hedges, 2004). Thus, Irving did not go on to work as a lawyer. Instead, he would continue to live off his family for the next 14 years. Though Irving’s family tried repeatedly to set him up with a job in law the family importing business, or government, all their attempts failed (Hedges, 2004). While Irving did occasionally work for his family as an agent or a lobbyist, he devoted the vast majority of his time “…to casually pursuing writing (Hedges, 2004).”

It is during this period that Irving began to write for purposes that would soon be associated with the American Romantic Movement, including the purposes of protesting materialism, development, and the fraudulent nature of American society. In 1807, Irving began his “...significant comic work”, in a joint effort with his brothers William and James Kirk Paulding, on a periodical called “Salmagundi” (Hedges, 2004). “Salmagundi” was a deliberately vulgar and unsophisticated railing against the vulgar and unsophisticated changes occurring at the time, all in the guise of a periodical (Hedges, 2004). Its style (a sarcastic embrace of the barbaric crudeness of the time), in combination with its content (unmitigated criticism), made it an effective protest both of materialism, and developments in urbanization, socioeconomic classes, and culture.

In 1809, Irving completed (what could be argued was) his second important work of protest, this time attacking the fraudulent nature of American society. Irving’s “A History of New York By Diedrich Knickerbocker,” which he started with his brother Peter, was a “…mock history of the colony of New Netherlands, written by the pseudounonymous author Diedrich Knickerbocker…,”which satires the American habit of glorifying and idealizing ones own past (Hedges, 2004). Because Knickerbocker tries to portray his own relatives in a glorious light, and yet fails because even he cannot delude himself enough to deny their mediocre reality, the book effectively illuminates American fraudulence (Hedges, 2004). Since fraudulence is looked down upon by society merely revealing it is sufficient to protest it.

After publishing “A History…” Irving discontinued writing for the next ten years, instead choosing to work as editor of the Analectic Magazine from 1813 to 1815, and as a representative in of the family business in Liverpool, England from 1815 to 1817. When his family’s business failed, Irving turned (for the first time) to writing as a means to financially support himself (Hedges, 2004).

In 1820, while still in England, Irving published “The Sketchbook of Geoffry Crayon, Gent.” The components of “The Sketchbook” where intended to be provided to the American public in booklet or pamphlet form by Irving’s brother Ebenezer, and his friend, Henry Brevoork (Hedges, 2004). Out of fear of his work being pirated in England, Irving published his “Sketchbook” in book form in England, to great accolades (Hedges, 2004).

“The Sketchbook” was made up of a number of different types of writings .Part of “The Sketchbook” is devoted to “…giving a tourist view of England and the English past, focusing on the quaint and picturesque (Hedges, 2004).” The most significant contributions of “The Sketchbook” however, were the stories of “Rip Van Winkle,” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” which could be considered the first examples of true short stories (Hedges, 2004). (Additionally, they are both significant as evidence of Irving’s desire to protest development, rationality, and materialism. Thus, “Sleepy Hollow” will be examined in depth later in this paper).

Irving continued to live in Europe for the next 12 years, trying to recycle the “formula” of “The Sketchbook” (Hedges, 2004). In 1822, Irving wrote “The Sketchbook, Bracebridge Hall,” as a sequel to the original “Sketchbook.” Unfortunately, only one short story, titled “The Stout Gentleman,” was considered by critics to be “…really first rate (Hedges, 2004).”

Irving spent the next year in Germany in the hopes of writing a German “Sketchbook.” Yet the German “Sketchbook” failed to materialize and what Irving did write from his time in Germany, Which was titled “Tales of a Traveler,” was horribly received (Hedges, 2004). The most successful of Irving’s attempts at utilizing the “Sketchbook” structure to create a new work was “The Alhambra,” which was written while Irving was living in Spain (Hedges, 2004). It adapted Spanish and Moorish legends to discuss the “…earthly paradise the Moors had had, and had lost in Andalusia (Hedges, 2004).”

Out of disappointment at the reception of “Tales of a Traveler,” Irving began focusing on writing nonfiction (Hedges, 2004). While working as a member of the American Ligation in Madrid, he began writing on Spanish history. In 1828, he wrote “Voyages of Christopher Columbus,” and in 1829, he wrote “A Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada.”

In 1829, Irving went back to England to work as secretary of the American Ligation in London. He returned to the United States in 1832. After his homecoming,
Irving wrote a number of historical books. These works focused on the aesthetic elements of the history they tried to explain, indicating clearly that Irving is of “…the Romantic School of historian (Hedges, 2004).”  “His understanding of the basic political, social and economic factors in history was superficial (Hedges, 2004).”

Aside from the period of time between 1842 and 1846, when Irving was minister to Spain, Irving spent the rest of his life in America. Irving died at his home Sunnyside in Tarrytown, New York on November 28, 1859.


The Legend of Sleepy Hollow


            It is through a careful examination of Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” that it can be incontrovertible proven that Irving wrote in protest of development, rationality and materialism. The idealization of the past that pervades the story suggests a dislike of development. Moreover, the embrace of the supernatural and imagination that occurs in the story indicates Irving’s aversion to rationality. Finally, the characters and occurrences of the story (when examined with a familiarity with the history behind the story) serve to reveal Irving’s distaste for materialism and development. Yet in order to see the truth of any of the aforementioned ideas, one most first have knowledge of the story of “Sleepy Hollow.”

            “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is set in the village of Sleepy hollow, New York. It centers on the story of Ichabod Crane, a school master from Connecticut who pines for the love of Katrina Van Tassel, the daughter of a rich Dutch farmer.

Yet there is a twist. Cranes desire for Katrina’s affection is rather ignoble. Ichabod is a “…freeloader and a glutton (Moss and Wilson, 1997).” The impetus for his quest to garner Katrina’s love is a desire for the material rewards that would be his if he could marry her; a large farmhouse full of and riches of all sorts.

Standing in his way is Brom Bones, who, like Crane, also seeks to marry Katrina (though for far more moral reasons; namely love). This shared desire for marriage to Van Tassel is the only thing both men share in common. While Crane is skeletal and tall New Englander, Bones is a rather sturdy, tough, and well built Dutch man. The contrast continues between the personalities the two; Crane is fraudulent in his relations (with Katrina and others) and is an exceedingly dubious teacher. Bones, though not a saint, is at least not specious like Crane. He is mischievous, but he never tries to feign nice. Moreover, he is mostly good hearted.

The story goes as follows. One night, after a quilting party at the Van Tassels that both Crane and Bones attended, Crane sets off for home in a dismal mode. His marriage proposal to Van Tassel was rejected, and he can’t help but wonder why he exerted himself this long to gain something he (perhaps) simply can’t have. On his way home, Crane, a fervent believer in the supernatural, is frightened by the sights and sounds of the night. Running through his mind are the details of the ghost stories told during the quilting party. One of these stories regards a ghost horseman who lost his head to a cannonball during the Revolutionary War.

As Crane continues on his way home, he encounters a horseman blocking his path. When the horseman fails to respond to Crane’s greeting, Crane flees and the horseman gives chase. He is unable to elude the horseman, and so when he looks back to check on how close his pursuer is, he not only realizes that he is about to be caught, but also that his pursuer is headless. Shortly thereafter, Crane is hit by a round object the size of a head (that was thrown by his pursuer).

The next day, Crane’s hat is located, along with his horse and a broken pumpkin. It quickly becomes clear that Crane was the victim of an elaborate prank pulled by Bones. Crane himself is never seen again, having fled for some distant “part of the country.” And Bones goes on to wed Katrina and live with her near Sleepy Hollow.

  After hearing Irving’s description of Sleepy Hollow, it is not surprising that Bones should decide to continue to live there. Throughout the “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” the area in which the story takes place is idealized repeatedly. Irving very nearly dedicates pages, in what is only a short story, to describing the quietness and the dreaminess of the place. Ultimately, all of this idealization is intended to protest development.

In order to understand how the idealization of Sleepy Hollow serves to protest development, one most first know of a strange idiosyncrasy of the Village. Sleepy Hollow is stuck in the past. “Although the story is set shortly after the Revolutionary War, Irving’s characters draw on the tradition of the pre-Revolution days of the colonial English and Dutch (Moss and Wilson, 1997).” Moreover, the village itself similarly draws on the colonial history of the region for its features (Moss and Wilson, 1997). In fact, the story even indicates that Sleepy Hollow ostensibly exists in the past.


“it is in such little retired Dutch valleys, found here and there embosomed in the great State of New-York, that population, manners, and customs, remain fixed; while the great torrent of migration and improvement, which is making such incessant changes in other parts of this restless country, sweeps by them unobserved (Irving, p.2).”


Mixed in with Irving’s references to the archaic nature of Sleepy Hollow are idealizations.

 The story opens with a description of the village of Sleepy Hollow that is heavily pervaded by idealizations.


“…which is one of the quietest places in the whole world. A small brook glides through it, with just murmur enough to lull one to repose; and the occasional whistle of a quail, or tapping of a woodpecker, is almost the only sound that breaks in upon the uniform tranquility (Irving, p.1).”


The above quote exaggerates the serenity of Sleepy Hollow, both by using exceedingly hyperbolic language (“…in the whole world.”) and by providing vivid descriptions of remarkable serenity. Yet such exaggerations are not made exclusively about the serenity of life in Sleepy Hollow. Irving also exaggerates the rewards of life in Sleepy Hollow; nowhere is there a better demonstration of such idealization than with this passage (which describes a quilting party held by the Van Tassals);


“Such heaped-up platters of cakes of various and almost indescribable kinds, known only to experienced Dutch housewives! There was the doughty dough-nut, the tenderer oly koek, and the crisp and crumbling cruller; sweet cakes and short cakes, ginger cakes and honey cakes, and the whole family of cakes. And then there were apple pies and peach pies and pumpkin pies; besides slices of ham and smoked beef; and moreover delectable dishes of preserved plums, and peaches, and pears, and quinces; not to mention broiled shad and roasted chickens; together with bowls of milk and cream, all mingled higgledy-piggledly, pretty much as I have enumerated them, with the motherly tea-pot sending up its clouds of vapor from the midst (Irving, p.11-12)…”


Here, Irving describes a party blessed with plentiful amounts of the finest and freshest food, thus quite plainly indicating that the residents of Sleepy Hollow enjoyed a life rich in bounties. Ultimately this idealization, in combination with the aforementioned idealization of the serenity of the Sleepy Hollow, serves to make life in the village exceedingly attractive to the reader. It thus makes the past attractive.

Since the reader knows that Sleepy Hollow is stuck in the past, Irving’s attempts at making the reader see life in the village attractive all serve to make him see life in the past as attractive. By making the past seem attractive (and, considering all his idealizations, far more attractive than any present or future the reader could know), Irving makes the changes that have since occurred seem unattractive. He thus protests development.

In addition to using “Sleepy Hollow” to protest development, Irving also uses the story to protest rationality. Yet Irving goes about this in an indirect manner. Rather than overtly criticize rationality, Irving instead utilizes “Sleepy Hollow” to demonstrate the power of the imagination. He thereby reveals the weakness of its antithesis, rationality, and thus protests it.

It is the actual plot of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” that serves to show the power of imagination. As previously stated, it is Bones, not the Headless Horseman, who scares Crane out of town. Yet nonetheless, Crane is just as scared by Bones as he would have been by the actual Headless Horseman, for his imagination transforms Bones into the Headless Horseman.


“On mounting a rising ground, which brought the figure of his fellow-traveller in relief against the sky, gigantic in height, and muffled in a cloak, Ichabod was horror-struck, on perceiving that he was headless!—but his horror was still more increased, on observing that the head, which should have rested on his shoulders, was carried before him on the pommel of the saddle; his terror rose to desperation; he rained a shower of kicks and blows upon Gunpowder; hoping, by a sudden movement, to give his companion the slip—but the spectre started full jump with him (Irving, p.16).”


The fact that Crane’s imagination should be sufficient to compel him into terror at the sight of what was really likely no more than Bones wearing a cloak over his head holding a pumpkin speaks tremendously to the power of imagination.

It also speaks to the relative weakness of rationality. Rationality is supposed to hold imagination in check. Yet Crane’s rationality was by no means capable of abating the fear his imagination generated; its strength, relative to the strength of imagination, was diminutive. Irving thus reveals rationality as weak. In doing so, he effectively protests societies embrace of rationality as a foundation on which everything else is built.

To understand how the occurrences and characters of the “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” all indicate Irving’s dissatisfaction with development and materialism, it is advantageous, and to a certain extent necessary, to have a basic understanding of the history of the time around which the story takes place. Essentially, one needs to know about the history of conflict between the Dutch and the English in America.

New York was originally called The New Netherlands, as it was a Dutch colony. It was only in 1664, when The New Netherlands was conquered by the British, that the land was renamed New York. Yet despite its change of owner, New York continued to have a Dutch “…cultural presence…” up until the early 1800s (Moss and Wilson, 1997).

This “cultural presence,” in combination with the significant cultural differences between the Dutch and the English, inspired prodigious amounts of small scale conflict, especially after the revolutionary war (Moss and Wilson, 1997). The Dutch viewed the English, who were primarily concentrated in New England, with enmity. The Dutch believed “…the English to be cold and calculating,” and eager to use development to satisfy their materialistic cravings (Moss and Wilson, 1997). For their part, the English thought the Dutch to be hooligans. It was only the separation of the Dutch and English communities (between New York and New England respectively) that kept the conflict that occurred between the two nationalities somewhat under control.

Shortly after the Revolutionary War, however, this beneficial separation ended. New Englanders flooded into New York to exploit its good farmlands and to escape the high taxes of New England (Moss and Wilson, 1997).  This inundation of New Englanders augmented the Dutch-English conflict significantly; the Dutch now feared their culture (of simple farming) would be lost in the materialism and desire for development of the New Englanders (Moss and Wilson, 1997). This historical conflict is all reflected in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (Moss and Wilson, 1997).

Yet Irving goes beyond merely capturing historical conflict in “Sleepy Hollow.” After setting up the historical conflict, Irving goes on to rewrite history. This rewriting of history is a clear protest of the two things for which Crane stood; materialism and development.

From the first mention of Crane in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” it is clear that Irving wishes to portray Crane as what the Dutch believed to be the quintessential New Englander.


“…for he was a huge feeder and though lank, had the dilating powers of an anaconda (Irving, p.3).”


The above quote serves to reveal Crane as greedy. To have an appetite that drives one to eat to the point of dilation is to consume superfluously. And to consume superfluously is by definition greedy.

            Greediness regarding food is materialistic. If greed is to be defined as the taking of more than is necessary, than greediness regarding food can be understood as consuming more than is necessary for nourishment. If one is eating more than is necessary for nourishment, they are obviously being motivated to eat by more than a need for sustenance. In fact, Crane eats to a great extent for pleasure, as indicated by the quote;


“He was a kind and thankful creature, whose heart dilated in proportion as his skin was filled with good cheer; and whose spirits rose with eating as some men’s do with drink (Irving, p.12).”


If ones spirit rises as one eats, then the food is clearly providing enjoyment. To rely on material (food) for enjoyment is to elevate material to a gratuitous level of importance. In other words, it is to be materialistic. Yet Crane’s use of food for pleasure is only one of his more moderate materialistic traits.

            During the story, Crane is ready to base one of the most important decisions of his life, that of whom he will spend the rest of his life with, merely on materials. It is Van Tassal’s material wealth, not her character, that is the true impetus for Crane’s endeavor to marry her.


“Ichabod Crane had a soft and foolish heart towards the sex; and it is not to be wondered at, that so tempting a morsel soon found favor in his eyes; more especially after he had visited her in her paternal mansion… The pedagogue’s mouth watered, as he looked upon this sumptuous promise of luxurious winter fare (the contents of the Van Tassal barn) . In his devouring mind’s eye, he pictured to himself every roasting-pig running about with a pudding in his belly, and an apple in his mouth; the pigeons were snugly put to bed in a comfortable pie, and tucked in with a coverlet of crust; the geese were swimming in their own gravy; and the ducks pairing cosily in dishes, like snug married couples, with a decent competency of onion sauce. In the porkers he saw carved out the future sleek side of bacon, and juicy relishing ham; not a turkey but he beheld daintily trussed up, with its gizzard under its wing, and, peradventure, a necklace of savory sausages; and even bright chanticleer himself lay sprawling on his back, in a side-dish, with uplifted claws, as if craving that quarter which his chivalrous spirit disdained to ask while living (Irving, p.6).”


As the above quote makes clear, Crane is a hardcore materialist. When considering life with the women he hopes to marry, he thinks not of the talks he could have with her, nor the dinners they could share, nor the walks that  they could take, nor even the children that together they could make. Instead, Cranes mind is fixed to fancifully musing over the various types of food he will be able to consume when he weds Van Tassal. The fact that the prospect of material wealth is sufficient to drive Crane to marriage demonstrates incontrovertibly that he is a materialist.

            In addition to being a materialist, Crane is also eager to ruthlessly pursue development (change) if it facilitates satisfying his own desires.


“…and his imagination expanded with the idea, how they (the Van Tassal’s land) might be readily turned in        to cash, and the money invested in immense tracts of wild land, and shingle palaces in the wilderness. Nay, his busy fancy already realized his hopes, and presented to him the blooming Katrina, with a whole family of children, mounted on the top of a wagon loaded with household trumpery, with pots and kettles dangling beneath; and he beheld himself bestriding a pacing mare, with a colt at her heels, setting out for Kentucky, Tennessee, or the Lord knows where (Irving, p.6-7).”


The above quote reveals Cranes rather cold desire for development. The quote comes just after Irving has set aside in excess of a page describing the almost unfathomable beauty of the Van Tassels farm. The notion that Crane should sell something so spectacular reveals clearly that Crane will seek development (at great cost) in order to satisfy his own (likely materialistic) desires.

            Just as Irving portrays Crane as materialistic and interested in development, so does he portray Bones as simple and mischievous.


            “… (Bones was a) burly, roaring, roistering, blade… (who had) more mischief than ill will in his composition; and with all his overbearing roughness, there was a strong dash of waggish good humor at the bottom (Irving, p.7-8).”


Bones is essentially described as the epitome of the Dutch young man; he is rough and tumble sort of man who despite his wrongdoings, which come down to nothing more than pranks, is predominantly good hearted. He is far more interested in love and good spirited competition than in material wealth and development (that compromises tradition).

            In seeking the love of the same women, Katrina Van Tassal, Bones and Crane come into a conflict that resembles the historical conflict between the Dutch and the English. Just as Crane wants to uproot the Van Tassals and strip the family of its long standing Dutch traditions for his own benefit, so did the English want to rid New York of its old Dutch farming communities for its material benefit. And just as Bones wants to marry Katrina and continue living in the traditional Dutch manner, so did the Dutch want to preserve their way of life against the currents of materialism and change.

            Yet rather than have Crane win, as the British did, Bones wins. Crane comes off as something of a coward after it is revealed that it is not the Headless Horseman that scared him out of town, but rather Bones and a pumpkin. The reader can’t help but feel the immense justice of the stories resolution; the sleazy and fraudulent gossip being cleverly booted from town by a goodhearted and tough young man.

            The facts that Bones wins, Crane comes off as a coward, and Bones’s victory seems equitable to the reader, all serve to reveal Irving’s protest of materialism and development. After all, if it is the coward loser (who is deservingly a loser) who is the story’s advocate for materialism and development, readers can’t be expected to feel any surge of fondness for materialism and development.






            As scholars continue to reflect back on Irving, they will never view him as one of the major players of the Romantic Movement, for his rise to fame, and what was perhaps the height of his career, came twenty years prior to the zenith of the movement. Indeed, the peak of the Romantic Movement actually occurred around the time of Irving’s death.

In not being around for the peak of the movement, Irving lost the opportunity to be influenced by the finest works of the quintessential Romantic writers, and thus have his work shaped into an embodiment of the movement. Moreover, the timing of his career relative to the timing of the Romantic Movement meant that his own influence on the movement was abated, thus further reducing the relation between Romanticism and his work. Ultimately, he missed out on being a part of the synergy of the movement; synergy that both inspired and homogenized.

Yet Irving is by no means completely unrelated to the Romantic Movement. In being the first notable American author to write in protest of things the Romantic Movement would later be known for protesting, Irving bears a significant relation to the movement. He was the first ray of light to be cast across the darkness of the American literary sky by the rising Romantic sun (the still forming Romantic Movement). Having been cast when that sun was still under the horizon, he is not identical to the suns later rays; rays like Poe Emerson, and Whitman. Yet just as a dawn ray of sunlight bears some resemblance to its noontime cousin, so did Irving to the Romantics.

By being the first ray of light cast by the first American literary movement, Irving was undoubtedly an encouragement to all the American writers who came after him. After all, it was he who first demonstrated that a great American literature was not an impossibility. For this, Irving deserved his place at Sunnyside, not just under the sun of Romanticism as its harbinger and a partial member, nor just under the sun of American Literary accomplishment as a great writer, but also under the sun of American reverence, as a great inspiration to a young nation.




Hedges, W. L. (2004). Washington Irving. In the Encyclopedia Americana: International     

Ed.(Vol. 15, pp.279-280). Danbury. Scholastic Library Publishing.


Irving, W. (1997). The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Cambridge, MA: The Harvard Classic

Shelf of Fiction.


Merriam-Webster’s Biographical Dictionary. (1995). Springfield, MA: Merriam



Moss, J. & Wilson, G. (1997). Literature and it’s Times: Profiles of 300 Notable Literary

Works and the Historical Events that Influenced Them. (1st Ed.,Vol.1) Detroit, MI: Gale.


Woodlief, Ann. (2005). American Romanticism.






Washington Irving's Most Important Works


Salmagundi (1807)

A History of New York By Diedrich Knickerbocker (1809)

The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (1820)

            Includes The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle

The Sketchbook, Bracebridge Hall (1822)

            Includes The Stout Gentleman

Tales of a Traveler (1823)

The Voyages of Christopher Columbus (1828)

A Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada (1829)

The Alhambra (1832)

A Tour of the Prairies (1835)

The Adventures of Captain Bonneville, U.S.A (1837)

Oliver Goldsmith (1849)

Mahomet and His Successors (1850)

The Life of Washington (a five volume series, 1855-1859)



Pictures and Links 




Washington Irving's grave

The old Dutch cemetary at Sleepy Hollow

Washington Irving's country home, Sunnyside

Washington State University's informitave site on Washington Irving; features biographical information, essays, and links to pages providing the complete text of many of Irving's works

Wikipedia's overview of the life of Washington Irving

The text of "Rip Van Winkle"

The text of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"

Page and featured paper by Jeremy Guggenheim