On this day in 1859, author Washington Irving passed away at age 76 in New York on the eve of the American Civil War. (Ironically Irving was born at the end of the Revolutionary War on April 3, 1783. His parents, Scottish-English immigrants, were great admirers of General George Washington, and named their son after their hero.)
Best known for his short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle," Irving was also a prolific essayist, biographer, columnist, and historian.
"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," in which a schoolmaster named Ichabold Crane meets with a headless horseman, was written while he was living in Birmingham, England - although the story is set circa 1790 in the Dutch settlement of Tarry Town, New York. First published in 1820, it is among the earliest American fiction still read today! In fact, Irving has been called the father of the American short story.
Walt Disney Productions brought Irving's famous tale to the big screen in October 1949 with the animated "package" feature The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. The story of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman was narrated by the legendary Bing Crosby.
Washington Irving is buried in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery at the Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow, New York.
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