Washington Irving – Research Project

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Washington Irving was a successful writer and editor, born April 3, 1783, in New York City, New York, and is best known for his short stories which include, ‘Rip Van Winkle’, and ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’.

Irving was America’s first internationally best-selling author who encouraged American authors – Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Henry Wadsworth, Longfellow and Edgar Allen Poe, and was admired by European writers including, Sir Walter Scott, with whom he was friends, Lord Byron, Thomas Campbell, Charles Dickens and others. Irving believed writing should be considered a legitimate profession and promoted the cause. He advocated for tougher laws to protect American writers from copyright infringements, but the legislation did not pass.

Did you know…

  • Washington Irving was named after General George Washington, the first president of the United States of America.
  • Irving was privately educated in his youth and was a self-taught adult.
  • In addition to being an author, Irving was an essayist, biographer, and a historian.
  • Irving had many pseudonyms that he wrote under.
  • Irving studied law and passed the bar.
  • Irving served as an ambassador to Spain from 1842 to 1846.
  • Washington Irving died November 28, 1859.

Research Questions

  • Where did Washington Irving grow up?
  • Where did Washington Irving get his inspiration to write ‘Rip Van Winkle’ and ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’?
  • What did Washington Irving nickname New York City, and what does it have to do with Batman?
  • What pseudonyms did Irving write under?
  • How is Irving remembered? (Memorials, City’s Named after him, Stamps, etc.)


    Bio: Washington Irving

    Brief biography about Irving.

    Wikipedia: Washington Irving

    A longer biography about Irving

    About: 19th Century History: Washington Irving

    Long biography about Washington Irving.

    Written by Washington Irving

    The Literature Network 
    Washington Irving
    Read a brief biography about Washington Irving, and some of his works, located on the left hand side of the page.

    Rip Van Winkle
    Read Irving’s classic short story
    Listen to this classic story on LibriVox: Rip Van Winkle

    The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

    Download and read Irving’s classic short story of the Headless Horseman & Ichabod Crane (aka The Legend of Sleepy Hollow)
    Listen to one of these versions of the classic story on LibriVox: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, or The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow Part 1 by Washington IrvingThe Legend Of Sleepy Hollow Part 2 by Washington Irving

    Old Christmas: From the Sketch Book of Washington IrvingThis is a LibriVox recording.

    Videos to Watch and Places to Visit on the Web

    Rip Van Winkle (Illustrations)

    Look at images from Arthur Rackham’s illustrations to Rip Van Winkle.
    Scroll down a little and click on the image you would like to look at.

    The Museum of Washington Irving

    Find out more about Washington Irving.

    1. Wishbone: Digging Up the Past part 1 9:58

    2. Wishbone: Digging Up the Past part 2 10:01

    3. Wishbone: Digging Up the Past part 3 7:01

    4. Wishbone – The Legend of Sleepy Hollow 54:43 

    5. Irving Documentary Jayme Smith 8:54

    6. Washington Irving: Biography, Works and Style 5:42

    7. The Haunted Pumpkin Of Sleepy Hollow(2003) 47:26 

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    1. Thank you for the Sleepy Hollow information. We are currently studying Early Am. History and are planning a Sleepy Hollow study for Halloween week!

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