Born: | ,
Died: | ,
: | Short story writer, essayist, biographer
Washington Irving (, –, ) was an author of the early 19th century. He is perhaps best known for his , his most famous being "" and "" (both appearing in ), but he was a prolific writer of , , and other forms as well. He and were the first American writers to earn acclaim in Europe, and Irving is said to have mentored authors such as , , and . Irving was born in . A , he was a member of the American diplomatic staff in and in . He spoke fluent , which served him well in his writings on that country, and he could read several other languages, including and . He was a prolific essayist who wrote widely respected biographies of , , and others, and he wrote a number of books on 15th century dealing with subjects such as , the , and the . While in Europe as a young man, Irving dabbled in the theatre and even served as manager of the famed Globe for a period of time.
Irving traveled on the Western in the 1830s and recorded his glimpses of western tribes in A Tour on the Prairies (1835). He was noted for speaking against the mishandling of relations with the tribes by and Americans:
It has been the lot of the unfortunate aborigines of America, in the early periods of colonization, to be doubly wronged by the white men. They have been dispossessed of their hereditary possessions by mercenary and frequently wanton warfare, and their characters have been traduced by bigoted and interested writers.
Irving is also the author of The Adventures of Captain Bonneville and Astoria and used firsthand accounts of these American west journeys, although most readers continue to believe they are "embellished" history.
In the 1840s, he returned to Europe as American Ambassador to Spain.
Irving's famous home in .
He lived in his famous home of , which is still standing just south of the in . The original house and the surrounding property were once owned by 18th-century colonialist , about whom Irving wrote his sketch "Wolfert's Roost" (the name of the house).
Irving's name appears across the country. The village of , and the town of , were named after the author, and also, it is believed, the city of . Both Washington Street and Irving Street in , also bear the author's name. His book was the inspiration for the naming of the town of . In addition, a library in , California, is named in his honor.
Irving's parents were William Irving of , in the , a petty officer in the Royal Navy and Sarah nйe Sanders.
His first book was A History of New-York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, by Dietrich Knickerbocker (), a sly satire on self-important local history that brought "" into the American lexicon, and then wider English usage.
Irving left for Europe in 1815. In 1819-1820 he published , which includes his best known stories, "" and "". During this stay in Europe he was a member of the American Legation to England but in his spare time he traveled to the continent and widely read Dutch and German folk tales. The pieces for The Sketch Book were originally written by Irving in Europe and were sent to his publishers in New York for publication in periodicals in the U.S. While in England, his sketches were published in book form by British publishers without his permission and from then on he published in Europe and the U.S. concurrently to protect his copyright.
"Rip Van Winkle" was written overnight while Irving was staying with his sister Sarah and her husband, in , , a place that also inspired some of his other works. Bracebridge Hall or The Humorists, A Medley is based on there.
Irving wrote The Life and Voyages of in 1828, the Conquest of a year later, and, the Voyages of the Companions of Columbus in 1831, during his 4-year stay in Spain. Just prior to his return to the United States, he wrote Tales of the Alhambra, which was to be published concurrently in England and the United States.