Irving Convention & Visitors Bureau

Washington Irving

Recognized as America's first man of letters and short stories, Washington Irving was born April 3, 1783, in New York City. He later became a key figure in American literature and is the namesake of the city of Irving, Texas. Before he was 26, Washington Irving had already published Diedrich Knickerbocker's History of New York. The book was later adopted by New York City as a kind of "knick" name.

Drawing from his knowledge of the Dutch-settled area along the Hudson River, Irving wrote the book with which most school children identify, The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon Gent. The book contained the well-known stories, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle."

Washington Irving first served U.S. Embassy posts in England and Spain, and then became America's first Spanish-speaking ambassador. While traveling in London, Washington Irving was inspired to capture and write about images of an "Olde English" Christmas celebration in his book, Bracebridge Hall.

During his travels to Spain, he began to write more imaginative and semi-scholarly works featuring Columbus, the Alhambra, and the Moors. Then in the 1830s, Irving traveled to the American frontier and ventured down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and passed through Osage Country. Two more books followed this adventure.

Retiring to his home in Sunnyside along the shores of the Hudson River, Washington Irving continued to write and eventually became a friendly mentor to the soon-to-be legendary American authors Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Edgar Allen Poe.

Irving died in Tarrytown, New York on November 28, 1859. His Sunnyside home was made a public shrine in 1947. The city of Irving, Texas was named after him in 1903.

Washington Irving's early works also set a monumental example for humorous and romantic writing, which later became an important part of American literature. Washington Irving had a unique way of combining folklore with romanticism in his literary works, and will forever be known as a prominent figure both in the city of Irving, Texas and around the world.


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