How did Washington Irving's life affect his writing in The History of NY?

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dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Washington Irving lived in Tarrytown N.Y. (slightly north of N.Y.C.) however he did travel to many places within the state. One of the best examples of how Irving's writing was affected by his experiences in N.Y. is reflected in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. While in Staten Island N.Y. Irving attended a local church service and decided to walk through the church graveyard. There he noticed a tombstone inscribed with the name Ichabod Crane. Irving thought the name strange, eerie and unforgettable.

In addition, Irving's writings actually gave N.Y. and for that matter, the new nation a literature Americans could call their own. His work really described what N.Y. looked like and sounded like. Through his work Americans were able to read about the place that they lived in....not some place in Europe.

F.Y.I.- As a Staten Islander I can tell you although local historical groups have replaced the original limestone tombstone (limestone weathers badly and letters fade with time) Ichabod Crane's marker is still in that same church graveyard. Washington Irving's story immortalized that local Staten Island name.

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