Irving, Washington (1783-1859), American writer, the first American author to achieve international renown, who created the fictional characters Rip Van Winkle and Ichabod Crane. The critical acceptance and enduring popularity of Irvings tales involving these characters proved the effectiveness of the short story as an American literary form.
Born in New York City, Irving studied law at private schools. After serving in several law offices and traveling in Europe for his health from 1804 to 1806, he was eventually admitted to the bar in 1806. His interest in the law was neither deep nor long-lasting, however, and Irving began to contribute satirical essays and sketches to New York newspapers as early as 1802. A group of these pieces, written from 1802 to 1803 and collected under the title Letters of Jonathan Oldstyle, Gent., won Irving his earliest literary recognition. From 1807 to 1808 he was the leading figure in a social group that included his brothers William Irving and Peter Irving and Williams brother-in-law James Kirke Paulding; together they wrote Salmagundi, or, the Whim-Whams and Opinions of Launcelot Langstaff, Esq., and Others, a series of satirical essays and poems on New York society. Irvings contributions to this miscellany established his reputation
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