Washington Irving biography

Washington Irving

Novelist, Author

1783 – 1859

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Who was Washington Irving?

Washington Irving was an American author, essayist, biographer, historian, and diplomat of the early 19th century. He is best known for his short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle", both of which appear in his book The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. His historical works include biographies of George Washington, Oliver Goldsmith and Muhammad, and several histories of 15th-century Spain dealing with subjects such as Christopher Columbus, the Moors, and the Alhambra. Irving served as the U.S. ambassador to Spain from 1842 to 1846.

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, along with James Fenimore Cooper, was among the first American writers to earn acclaim in Europe, and Irving encouraged American authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Edgar Allan Poe. Irving was also admired by some European writers, including Walter Scott, Lord Byron, Thomas Campbell, Francis Jeffrey, and Charles Dickens. 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.

Famous Quotes:

  • Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortunes; but great minds rise above them.
  • There is a healthful hardiness about real dignity that never dreads contact and communion with others however humble.
  • Temper never mellows with age, and a sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use.
  • The tongue is the only instrument that gets sharper with use.
  • A woman's life is a history of the affections.
  • There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have often found in travelling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift ones position, and be bruised in a new place.
  • An inexhaustible good nature is one of the most precious gifts of heaven, spreading itself like oil over the troubled sea of thought, and keeping the mind smooth and equable in the roughest weather.
  • The sorrow for the dead is the only sorrow from which we refuse to be divorced. Every other wound we seek to heal -- every other affliction to forget: but this wound we consider it a duty to keep open -- this affliction we cherish and brood over in solitude.
  • Some minds seem almost to create themselves, springing up under every disadvantage and working their solitary but irresistible way through a thousand obstacles.
  • The great British Library --an immense collection of volumes of all ages and languages, many of which are now forgotten, and most of which are seldom read: one of these sequestered pools of obsolete literature to which modern authors repair, and draw buckets full of classic lore, or pure English, undefiled wherewith to swell their own scanty rills of thought.

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"Washington Irving." Biographies.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 22 Jun 2021. <https://www.biographies.net/people/en/washington_irving>.


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Born
Apr 3, 1783
Manhattan
Also known as
  • Geoffrey Crayon
  • Diedrich Knickerbocker
  • Jonathan Oldstyle
  • "The First American Man of Letters"
Parents
Siblings
Nationality
  • United States of America
Profession
Lived in
  • New York
  • Manhattan
  • Madrid
    (1826 - )
  • Spain
    (1842 - 1846)
  • New York City
Died
Nov 28, 1859
Sunnyside

Submitted
on July 23, 2013

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