Washington Irving was born on April 3rd, 1783 in Tarrytown, NY. He was the first American who had great success in both America and Europe (later to come was James Fenimore Cooper). Not only was Washington Irving a short story writer and an essayist, but he was a historian, a biographer, and a diplomat. Throughout his life, Irving was known for his short stories such as Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow; which were included with other works in a book called The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. Because of these works, Irving shaped what people early on would consider “the American Identity.” He wrote under many pseudonyms such as Jonathan Oldstyle, Diedrich Knickerbocker, and Geoffrey Crayon. As a biographer, he told the stories of George Washington (who he is named after), Christopher Columbus, and the Islamic prophet Muhammed.
Between 1819 and 1820, Washington Irving publish The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. , which contained both the popular stories Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow; and immediately it was a success. Due to his extreme success, Washington Irving paved the way for other American writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allen Poe; even European writers like Charles Dickens. Irving died on December 28th 1859 in Sunnyside,NY. His contribution to American Literature history is one that cannot be marked only by the number of works he created but by the lives he’s touched and influenced and the stories he’s told. He was an example for American writers and a major influence for those of Europe. Washington Irving became an advocate for making writing a legitimate profession and for copywrite laws. He spent his entire life doing what he loved and his passion not only transcended the boundaries of nations and social status, but through time.