The first great American man of letters, Washington Irving became an international celebrity almost overnight upon publication of The Sketch Book in 1820, which included the short stories The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and Rip Van Winkle.” These two tales remain his crowning achievement, but in addition to being a writer of short stories, Irving was also an acclaimed essayist, travel writer, biographer, and historian.
This volume showcases Irving’s best work across a variety of genres, including whimsical newspaper articles about New York society, the theater, and contemporary fashions; charming travel pieces that evocatively weave together history and legend; humorous stories and satirical essays from The Sketch-Book and its sequel Bracebridge Hall, and excerpts from A History of New York, considered the first great American book of comic literature. The author’s success enabled him to earn a living by writing alone, unheard of for an American at that time.
Irving’s energetic, often tongue-in-cheek prose style, together with his ability to blend roguish satire, pathos, and picturesque description, had a profound influence upon the popular culture of his day. His writings have become a cornerstone in the foundation of the American literary tradition.
Peter Norberg received his Ph.D. from Rice University in 1998. Since 1997 he has been Assistant Professor of English at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. A specialist on the writers associated with the transcendentalist movement, he has written and lectured extensively on Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, and the critical reaction to transcendentalism in the writings of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe.