Irving, Washington

3 April 1783 - 28 November 1859

Often regarded as the originator of the American short story, Irving produced a number of sketches of life in the Hudson River Valley of New York, and of life in England and Spain; these were popular enough that Irving is often said to be the first American author to earn a living solely from his writing. Like Nathaniel Hawthorne, Irving was acutely aware of America's cultural roots in Europe, and much of his work reflects both a nostalgia for and an updating of European life and folkways, as does the fact Irving spent a considerable portion of his adult life—over 20 years—living in Europe. Irving's "transitional" status is also evident in his powerful interest in American beginnings: a (largely comic) History of New York, a biography of Columbus (the literal "finder" of America, at least in popular myth), and a biography of George Washington (one of America's political "founders" and the man after whom Irving was named).

Many of Irving's tales have a supernaturalist element, though Irving's gentle humor and rationalist skepticism often hedge that supernaturalism considerably, especially in the American tales.
  Washington Irving
The Noel Collection

Biographical note
[The Authors Calendar]
Brief biographical note
[Peter Landry, Biographies]
Washington Irving
Links, bibliography, and a student-written biographical note. [Perspectives on American Literature, Paul P. Reuben, Cal State Stanislaus]
Washington Irving
A course-related page featuring links to Irving materials and a select bibliography. [Donna Campbell, Gonzaga U]
Biographical note
Brief biographical note
Focuses on Irving's time in England. []
Brief biographical note
Brief biographical note a LitGothic etext
[John W. Cousins, A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature, 1910]
Washington Irving opens in new tab/window
A review of a biography of Irving, from the June 1864 issue of Atlantic Monthly magazine, at Cornell U's "Making of America". Like many reviews of the time, this one spends most of its length discussing Irving's life and literary creations, not the merits of the volume being reviewed.
note: stories at the "Making of America" project are available in multiple formats (image, pdf, plain text). This link is to the images — e-facsimiles, basically — but other viewing options are readily available (click on a page number, then select another "View As" option).
Irving Hyper-Concordance
Part of the The Victorian Literary Studies Archive, this concordance allows you to search etexts of many of Irving's works.

The Alhambra
The complete text of The Alhambra (originally published in 1832; this is the text of the revised edition, published 1851) is available courtesty of the Library of the University of Adelaide, Australia. This e-text (prepared by Steve Thomas) makes each tale of The Alhambra available independently. Those having a strong supernaturalist element (and that's often a highly qualified supernaturalism in Irving, of course) are as follows:

"Legend of Sleepy Hollow"  buy this book at
- at Words [Russell Tayler, Newcastle U, Australia]
- at Project Gutenberg (82K)
- at (92K)
- at Etext Center, UVa

"Rip van Winkle"
- at (66K)
- at Etext Collection, U of Adelaide Library (42K)
- at Words [Russell Tayler, Newcastle U, Australia]
- at [ToC].
Features illustrations by the famed late-19th/early 20th Century illustrator Arthur Rackham
-- brief note on this story []

"The Spectre Bridegroom"
Irving's version of the "spectre bridegroom" motif.
- at Words [Russell Tayler, Newcastle U, Australia]
- as part of The Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. at Project Gutenberg (784K); use your browser's search function to locate

"Wolfert Webber, or Golden Dreams"
This story (along with the inset story "Adventure of the Black Fisherman") is available as part of Stories by Modern American Authors, a Project Gutenberg etext (756K). The individual tales in this volume are not available as separate files, so you'll need to use your browser's search function to locate it.
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Essays and Reviews:
"Irving, the Laughsmith: Comic Devices in "The Spectre Bridegroom", "Rip Van Winkle", and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", from The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent (1820)"
By Françoise Dupeyron-Lafay. [Revue ALIZES]
"Washington Irving."