On this day…
3rd April, 1783 – Washington Irving born
Washington Irving (April 3, 1783 – November 28, 1859) was an American author, essayist, biographer, historian, and diplomat of the early 19th century. He is best known for his short stories “Rip Van Winkle” (1819) and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (1820).
He made his literary debut in 1802 with a series of observational letters to the Morning Chronicle, written under the pseudonym Jonathan Oldstyle. After moving to England for the family business in 1815, he achieved international fame with the publication of The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. in 1819–20. He continued to publish regularly — and almost always successfully — throughout his life, and completed a five-volume biography of George Washington just eight months before his death, at age 76, in Tarrytown, New York.
Irving was among the first American writers to earn acclaim in Europe, and Irving encouraged American authors. As America’s first genuine internationally best-selling author, Irving advocated for writing as a legitimate profession, and argued for stronger laws to protect American writers from copyright infringement.
Did You Know?
Its name was changed in 1996 in honour of Washington’s story. The Author is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where his amiable ghost is said to roam.
The legend that inspired Irving was based on a real-life discovery of a decapitated body – thought to be a German Sharpshooter from the Revolutionary War – in the Old Dutch Burying Ground (pictured).
Myths & Legends
In Celtic myth the dullahan is a headless spirit which rides a black horse. He gallops through the night for eternity but if he stops a death occurs.
Sources – Wikipedia & Sarah Bartlett’s Supernatural – A world guide to mysterious places (ISBN 978-0-85762-340-9)