washingtonirving[1] - Welch 1 Scott Welch Ms Autry English...

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Welch 1 Scott Welch Ms. Autry English 2321-02 20 November 2006 Washington Irving’s Life and Works The stories of “Rip Van Winkle” and “Sleepy Hollow” are the two most recognized short tales authored by Washington Irving. These tales have lasted throughout time and have inspired many great writers to mimic the intelligent prose. The purpose of this essay is to look at the life of Washington Irving for clues as to why his writing style was so unique and how these stories reflected the times he lived in. This will be accomplished through a short comprehensive overview of his life, and how the education and travels he partook in shaped his literary style. Irving’s life has been greatly detailed in The Cambridge History of English and American Literature. Irving was born in New York City, in 1783, the same year the United States gained independence. In his younger years he showed a great affinity towards reading and studying literary classics. He fell ill in his early twenties and for this reason did not spend a great deal of time gaining a formal education. However, his illness did not slow down his education. While Irving was ill, he made a trip to Europe. During this journey, he continued to educate himself, while taking in the scenery and ideologies of the places he visited. It has been noted that some of his literary country sides are seemingly akin to those he visited during his stint in Europe. His voyage came to a rest nearly two years later when he returned to New York to avoid the dangerous wars that were taking place in Germany
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Welch 2 and elsewhere. (Cambridge 1302) On his return to the States, Irving began to study law under two prominent lawyers. One of which, Josiah Hoffman, was the father of his one and only love Matilda. The love affair was short lived, as Matilda died at the age of seventeen. Yet, Irving stayed true to their love for nearly fifty years, it has been documented “that he was still wearing on his breast a locket containing her miniature and lock of hair.” (Cambridge 1302) This gesture is perhaps one of the foretelling symbols of his literary magnificence. Washington Irving grew bored with the routine of law very quickly, so he
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washingtonirving[1] - Welch 1 Scott Welch Ms Autry English...

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