Washington Irving was born on April 3, 1783 in New York City. The youngest of 11 children (of Scottish-English immigrant parents William Sr. and Sarah) he was named after George Washington, the hero of the just-completed American Revolution. Irving attended the presidential inauguration of his namesake in 1789.

Educated privately, Irving began writing essays under the pen name Jonathan Oldstyle for the Morning Chronicle. The Chronicle was edited by his older brother Peter.

Irving teamed with friend James Kirke Paulding and oldest brother William to publish Salamagundi, a periodical of humorous essays. In a similar vein, he penned the "History of New-York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, by Diedrich Knickerbocker" (1809), a satirical work that earned the writer widespread acclaim.

Despite the early successes, Irving's career stalled as he sought to figure out what to do next. He briefly served in the military during the War of 1812.

Washington Irving went on to write "The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle" which made him a literary star in both the U.S. and England.

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