About the Author
Washington Irving (1783-1859)
Washington Irving was an American writer and diplomat serving as the American ambassador to Spain in the 1840s. He is best known for his short stories “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle.” Irving was an advocate for writing as a respectable profession and fought for stronger laws to protect authors from copyright infringement. Irving studied law, passing the bar exam in 1806, but was uninterested in practicing. Washington Irving is credited as the first American man to earn his living by his pen.
Washington Irving liked to name characters in his stories after people he had met; Ichabod Crane was the name of an army captain Irving met during Irving’s service as an aide-de-camp to the governor of New York. The character was probably based on his friend Jesse Merwin. Katrina Van Tassel was inspired by a real woman of that name. Irving had stayed with her family for several months and asked her permission to use her name. The decapitated Hessian soldier who became the headless horseman in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” was based on a headless corpse found after a battle and buried by the Van Tassel family of Sleepy Hollow.
He was notable for coining the name “Gotham” for New York City and credited for coining the phrase “the almighty dollar.” Hi writings also influenced the way Americans celebrated Christmas, reviving traditions that had been lost in England. Washington Irving died of a heart attack on November 28, 1859 at age 76.
“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (1820)
The haunting story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is perfect reading for the Halloween season. It is set in a sleepy American town in 1790 and is about an awkward outsider, a love triangle, and a ghostly headless horseman who haunts the area.
Questions for Reading “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”:
What is the significance of the name “Sleepy Hollow”? How is this reflected in the epigraph at the beginning of the story?
What does the author do to create an atmosphere of fear and superstition in his readers?
How does Ichabod Crane’s superstitious nature contribute to his downfall?
Ichabod Crane, Brom Bones, and Katrina Van Tassel form a love triangle. Who do you view as being most to blame for this?
What do you believe happened to Ichabod Crane? What evidence from the story supports this conclusion?
Storybooks for Elementary, Intensive Support, and Preschool