Irving wanted to provide a relatively accurate portrayal of life in America, especially to convey its wonder and beauty to those in Europe. He was regarded as a sort of "travel writer," one who could bring a sense of the young country to his readers. Irving, in his essay "The Author's Account of Himself," writes: "Books of voyages and travels became my passion...I visited various parts of my own country...for on no other country have the charms of nature been more prodigally lavished." Contrasting America to Europe, Irving says, "My native country was full of youthful promise; Europe was rich in the accumulated treasures of age."
Part of the appeal of travel writing also is the native lore that compliments the scenery. Irving included superstitious tales that he had heard in order to make the experience of "being there" even more real for his readers.