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Washington Irving

(1783 - 1859)

Washington Irving was an American author, essayist, biographer, historian, and diplomat, considered the first genuine American man of letters. Born just after the end of the American Revolution, Irving grew up in a New York City where the presence of British troops was still a recent memory, and this context permeated his writing style and interests.

Irving achieved international fame with the publication of "The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent." in 1819. This collection included "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," stories that remain central to American folklore and culture. These tales showcase Irving's skill at weaving together humor, folklore, and a touch of the supernatural. His literary works often reflected the identity and culture of early America, helping to shape the country's sense of its own history and legends.

Beyond fiction, Irving wrote several biographies, including an extensive work on George Washington, whom he also admired enough to adopt his name as his own middle name. Irving's diplomatic career took him across Europe, which reflected in his writing and contributed to his status as a cultural ambassador.

Irving's genteel and picturesque style, imbued with wit and a sense of romanticism, appealed to both American and European audiences. His contributions to American literature set a foundation for future writers to build upon and earned him recognition as a key figure in the development of the American literary tradition.

Short Stories member since March 2016