Did you know that Washington Irving was born today in 1783? He was named after the Revolutionary War hero, George Washington. While he initially studied to become a lawyer, Washington Irving eventually became a writer. He wrote biographies, travel logs, historical novels, and short stories. Two of his best-known works are “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. Washington Irving was one of the first American writers to become internationally popular. He helped mentor and encourage other writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
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Washington Irving was born the same week his mother heard about the end of the American Revolutionary War. She named her son after the hero of the revolution, George Washington. When he was 6 years old, he met George Washington after the President’s inauguration.
As a child Washington Irving was an ‘uninterested student’. He preferred stories of adventure and drama. When he was 14 he would sneak out of class to attend the theater.
Washington Irving also mentored Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Herman Melville. Some European authors that admired him included Lord Byron, Charles Dickens, and Walter Scott.
Washington Irving traveled through Europe for about 17 years before returning to the United States.
Washington Irving also acted as an ambassador to Spain from 1842 to 1846.
In 1807 Washington Irving affixed the nickname ‘Gotham’ to New York City, it was a word that meant “Goat’s Town”.
During the War of 1812, Washington Irving was initially against the war. After the British attack on Washington DC in 1814 Washington Irving enlisted.
Washington Irving encountered issues with ‘literary bootleggers’; much of his writing was reproduced without his permission or compensation. Later he advocated for stronger laws to protect American writers from copyright infringement.