Washington Irving was a American writer, the first American author to achieve international fame, who created the fictional characters Rip Van Winkle and Ichabod Crane. The strict acceptance and standing popularity of Irving's tales involving these characters proved the effectiveness of the short story in American literary form. Irving was born in New York City, Irving studied law at private schools. After serving in several law offices and traveling in Europe for his health from 1804 to 1806, he eventually was amitted to the bar in 1806. His interest in the law was not deep or long lasting, however, Irving began to give essays and sketches to New York newspapers as early as 1802. And a group of these pieces, written from 1802 to 1803 and collected under the title "Letters of Jonathan Oldstyle", won Irving his earliest literary recognition. From 1807 to 1808, he was the leading person in a social group that included his brothers William Irving and Peter Irving and William's brother-in-law James Kirke Paulding, together they wrote "Salmagundi", or, the "Whim-Whams and Opinions of Launcelot Langstaff", and others, a series of essays and poems on New York society. Irving's contributions to this thing established his reputation as an essayist and wit, and this reputation was enhanced by his next work, "A History of New York" (1809), evidently written by Irving's famous comic creation, the Dutch-American scholar Diedrich Knickerbocker. The work is a account of New York State during the period of Dutch occupation which was from (1609-1664). Irving's mocking tone and funny descriptions of early American life offset the nationalism in much American writing of the time. Generally considered the first important contribution to American comic literature, and a great popular success from the start. The work brought Irving lots of fame and financial reward. In 1815 Irving went to Liverpool, England, as a silent partner in his brothers' commercial firm. When, after a series of losses, the business went into bankruptcy in 1818, Irving returned to writing for a living. In England he became the good friend of several leading men of letters, including Thomas Campbell, Sir Walter Scott, and Thomas Campbell. Under the alias of Geoffrey Crayon. Irving wrote the essays and short stories collected in the Sketch Book in (1819-1820), his most popular work, which was widely acclaimed in both England and the United States for its grace, and humor. The collection's two most famous stories, both were based on German folktales, are Rip Van Winkle, which was about a man who falls asleep in the woods for twenty years, and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, about a schoolteacher's encounter with a legendary headless horseman. Set in rural New York, the tales are considered classics in American literature. From 1826 until 1829 Irving was a member of the staff of the United States legation in Madrid. During this time and after his return to England, he wrote several historical works, the most popular of which was the History of Christopher Columbus in (1828). Another well known work of this period was The "Alhambra" in (1832), a series of sketches and stories based on Irving's life in 1829 in an ancient Moorish palace in Granada, Spain. In 1832, after an he was gone for a time that lasted 17 years, he returned to the United States, where he was welcomed as a person of international importance. Over the next few years Irving traveled to the American West and wrote several books using the West as their setting. These works include "A Tour on the Prairies" in (1835), "Astoria" in (1836), and "The Adventures of Captain Bonneville", in U.S.A. (1837). In 1842 Irving was appointed U.S. minister to Madrid, he lived there until 1846, going on with his historical research and writing. He returned to the United States again in 1846 and settled at Sunnyside, his country home near Tarrytown, New York, where he lived until his death. Irving's popular but elegant style, based on the styles of the British writers Joseph Addison and Oliver Goldsmith, and the ease of his best work attracted an international audience. To a extent his romantic attachment to Europe resulted in a thinness of material. Much of his work deals directly with English life and customs, and he never attempted to come to terms with the democratic American life of his time. But also American writers were encouraged by Irving's example to look beyond the United States for subject matter. Irving's other works include "Bracebridge Hall" in (1822), "Tales of a Traveller" in (1824), "A Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada" in (1829), "Oliver Goldsmith" in (1849), and "Life of Washington" (5 volumes, in 1855-1859).

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