A Note About These Stories
Washington Irving was an American writer. He was born on April 30th, 1783, in New York. As a young man, he studied law and he worked in several law companies. But from 1802, he also wrote stories and essays. At first, these were published in newspapers, but later they were collected together and published in books.
During the years1804-6, Irving traveled in Europe. He left the United States again in 1815, and he lived in Europe for many years. At first, he worked in a company which was owned by his two brothers, in Liverpool, in England. Eleven years later, he went to live in Madrid, in Spain. He worked for the United States government there. After that, he returned to England for several years, and in 1832, he went back to theUnited States. His books were now very popular there.
During the years 1842-6, Irving worked in Madrid again. This time, he had a more important government job. Then he returned for the last time to the U.S. He lived in a beautiful house in Tarry Town (Tarrytown), near New York, until his death in 1859.
Irving was the first great American writer of humorous stories. He also wrote books aboutthe countries which he visited, and a book about the life of George Washington—the first U.S. president.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and The Legend of Rip Van Winkle first appeared in The Sketch Book, Irving's most popular book, which was published in 1820.
Dutch people arrived in North America from the Netherlands early in the seventeenth century. They came to live in a new land—they weresettlers. Many of them made their homes in the area around the Hudson River, in the east of the land. But at the time when The Legend of Rip Van Winkle begins, nearly two hundred years later, this part of North America was a British colony. The land was owned by Britain. The colony was ruled by King George the Third, who was the British king from 1760 to 1820. Some people in North America werehappy about this. They liked the British king—they were loyal to King George. But many others did not want their land to be ruled by Britain. They wanted to live in an independent country. They wanted their own government and they wanted their own laws. There was a war between these people and the British army. The Americans won the war, and the British left the colony. At the end of Rip Van Winkle'sstory, he is living in an independent country—the United States of America. The country has a president, not a king. The first president of the United States was George Washington.
The other story in this book, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, takes place after the war with Britain, early in the nineteenth century.
THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
The Ghost of the Soldier
On the eastern bankof the great Hudson River, in North America, there is a small town. Its name is Tarry Town. Once the town had a different name. Why did it change? This is the reason. Wives often sent their husbands to the market in the town to buy and sell things. "Come back quickly," the wives always said. But the husbands never returned home quickly. They stayed or "tarried" in the town and they drank beer atthe inns there. So people started to call the place Tarry Town.
About two miles from Tarry Town is a little hollow— or valley—between some high hills. A small river runs through this valley. The valley is a very peaceful place. Everyone who goes there soon feels peaceful. They quickly forget their troubles. And everyone who lives there always feels sleepy. Because of this strange peacefulfeeling, the valley is called "Sleepy Hollow".
Dutch settlers first came to Sleepy Hollow early in the seventeenth century. They made their homes there. But before the Dutch people came, Native Americans had lived there. These people believed in many different spirits. Perhaps these spirits made Sleepy Hollow a strange and mysterious place.
There was something very strange about the people who...