Well written and descriptive essay/bio on Washington Irving, from a B to an A- paper

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Washington Irving

Washington Irving was the first native American to succeed as a professional writer. He remains

important as a pioneer in American humor and the development of the short story. Irving was greatly

admired and imitated in the 19th century. Toward the end of his career, his reputation declined due to the

sentimentality and excessive gentility of much of his work ("Irving" 479). Washington Irving's time spent

in the Hudson Valley and abroad contributed to his writing of The Devil and Tom Walker, The Legend of

Sleepy Hollow, and Rip Van Winkle.

Irving was born in New York City on April 3, 1783, the youngest of eleven children in a merchant

family. Unlike his brothers, Irving did not attend nearby Columbia College, instead he was apprenticed in

1801 to a lawyer. In 1806, he passed the bar examination, but remained financially dependent on his

family until the publication of The Sketch Book. In the meantime, Irving did odd jobs for the family as

agent and lobbyist. It seems like he worked as little as possible, and for years pursued an amateur or

semiprofessional interest in literature ("Irving" 479). In his free time, he read avidly and wandered when

he could in the misty, rolling Hudson River valley, an area steeped in local folklore and legend that would

serve as an inspiration for his later writings. ("Washington Irving" DISC)

At nineteen, Mr. Irving began writing satirical letters under the pseudonym "Jonathan Oldstyle."

He wrote to a newspaper owned by his brother Peter, named the New York Morning Chronicle. His first

book, Salmagundi, was a collaboration with another brother, William and their friend James Kirke

Paulding. This book satirized early New York theater and poked fun at the political, social, and cultural

life of the city. Washington Irving's second...