Washington Irving

(1783—1859) American writer

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born in New York, the son of an Englishman. He published (with his brother William Irving and J. K. Paulding) a series of satirical essays and poems collected in Salmagundi: or, The Whim‐Whams and Opinions of Launcelot Langstaff, Esq. and Others (1808). This was followed by his highly successful burlesque A History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, by ‘Diedrich Knickerbocker’, a pseudonym chosen to represent the solid, phlegmatic Dutch burgher created by Irving. Irving visited England and met Sir W. Scott, T. Moore, T. Campbell, John Murray, and others; on his return, he wrote The Sketch Book (1820), essays and tales under the pseudonym ‘Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.’, which contains sketches of English life, essays on American subjects, and American adaptations of German folk tales (including ‘Rip Van Winkle’ and ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’). It was followed by other popular works, including Bracebridge Hall (1822), which features Squire Bracebridge, a sort of 19th‐cent. de Coverley. Some of his subsequent works were inspired by his period as diplomatic attaché in Spain (1826–9), including Legends of the Alhambra (1832). He was hailed in his own country as the first American author to have achieved international fame.

Subjects: Literature.

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