Washington Irving

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Washington Irving

Washington Irving1783-1859

"Age is a matter of feelings, not of years."

Washington Irving was born in New York City in 1783. His parents were Scottish-English immigrants that moved to America with hopes of owning land. Washington was the last of eight children. His mother named him after the great American hero George Washington. As luck would have it, he was fortunate enough to meet his idol in New York at the age of six. He actually dedicated a watercolor painting to this encounter (this painting still resides in his home). As Washington grew he seemed to grow less and less interested in school and more fascinated with adventure and drama. Often times he wouls sneek away from his classes at night to go to the local theatre. This would influence most of his literary work in his career. In 1798, his family was forced to send him to Tarrytown, New York, afraid that the massive outbreak of Yellow Fever might affect young Washington. However, the outbreak relinquished shortly after Washington had left.

Washington Irving was a pioneer in American Literature. His short stories and novels insprired a prospering nation and provided a blueprint for future writers. He was the first to successfully publish a collection of short stories. He was the first writer to make the transition from literature to politics. In short, he was one of a select few to revolutionize American-Colonial writing.

He made his literary debut in 1802 with a collection of observational letters written to the "Morning Chronicle." However it was kept secret with the pen name Jonathan Oldstyle. Throughout his life Irving used different pen names which were later uncovered. In fact one particular pen name is the origin of the New York Knicks. In 1815 he moved to England to partake in his family's business. However in 1819, he became an internaional sensation with the publishing of "The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon." This launched his career in ways he could never imagine. He continued publishing successfully throughout his life with stories such as "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle. He even managed to serve as the U.S. minister to Spain from 1842 to 1846. However, in 1859 Washington Irving died of natural causes in his home in Sunnyside, New York. Leaving behind a legacy that won't soon be forgotten.

Early Life

Influence on America


Irving's Literature


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