Washington Irving

             Washington Irving was the first native American to succeed as a professional writer. He remains
             important as a pioneer in American humor and the development of the short story. Irving was greatly
             admired and imitated in the 19th century. Toward the end of his career, his reputation declined due to the
             sentimentality and excessive gentility of much of his work ("Irving" 479). Washington Irving's time spent
             in the Hudson Valley and abroad contributed to his writing of The Devil and Tom Walker, The Legend of
             Sleepy Hollow, and Rip Van Winkle.
             Irving was born in New York City on April 3, 1783, the youngest of eleven children in a merchant
             family. Unlike his brothers, Irving did not attend nearby Columbia College, instead he was apprenticed in
             1801 to a lawyer. In 1806, he passed the bar examination, but remained financially dependent on his
             family until the publication of The Sketch Book. In the meantime, Irving did odd jobs for the family as
             agent and lobbyist. It seems like he worked as little as possible, and for years pursued an amateur or
             semiprofessional interest in literature ("Irving" 479). In his free time, he read avidly and wandered when
             he could in the misty, rolling Hudson River valley, an area steeped in local folklore and legend that would
             serve as an inspiration for his later writings. ("Washington Irving" DISC)
             At nineteen, Mr. Irving began writing satirical letters under the pseudonym "Jonathan Oldstyle."
             He wrote to a newspaper owned by his brother Peter, named the New York Morning Chronicle. His first
             book, Salmagundi, was a collaboration with another brother, William and their friend James Kirke
             Paulding. This book satirized early New York theater and poked fun at the political, social, and cultural
             life of the city. Washington Irving's second book, A History of New York, from the Beginning of the
             World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, is narra...

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