Washington Irving

By: Jake Denby

Writer (1783–1859)

Washington Irving was born on April 3, 1783 in New York City, New York, USA. He was one of eleven children born to Scottish-English immigrant parents. He was named Washington after the hero of the American revolution, George Washington. Washington Irving was educated privately, and studied law. He travelled in France and Italy (1804–1806), wrote whimsical journals and letters, then returned to New York City to practice law.

Washington Irving

In 1807, he and his brother William Irving and James Kirke Paulding wrote a collection of humorous essays. He first became more widely known for his comic work. In 1815 Irving went to England to work for his brothers' business, and when that failed he composed a collection of stories and essays that became The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Washington then moved to Spain (1826) to do research for his biography of Christopher Columbus. He spent most of the rest of his life at his estate near Tarrytown, NY, turning out a succession of mainly historical and biographical works, including a five-volume life of George Washington. Although he became a best-selling author, he never really fully developed as a literary talent.

Fun Fact:

In 1999, director Tim Burton released his film Sleepy Hollow based on Washington Irving's story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." The film starred Johnny Depp and is about a man sent from New York city to investigate a series of murders by a mysterious Headless Horseman.