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Washington IrvingWashington Irving was the first native American to succeed as a professional writer He remains important as a pioneer in American humor and the development of the short story Irving was greatly admired and imitated in the 19th century Toward the end of his career his reputation declined due to the sentimentality and excessive gentility of much of his work Irving 479 Washington Irvings time spent in the Hudson Valley and abroad contributed to his writing of The Devil and Tom Walker The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle Irving was born in New York City on April 3 1783 the youngest of eleven children in a merchant family Unlike his brothers Irving did not attend nearby Columbia College instead he was apprenticed in 1801 to a lawyer In 1806 he passed the bar examination but remained financially dependent on his family until the publication of The Sketch Book In the meantime Irving did odd jobs for the family as agent and lobbyist It seems like he worked as little as possible and for years pursued an amateur or semiprofessional interest in literature Irving 479 In his free time he read avidly and wandered when he could in the misty rolling Hudson River valley an area steeped in local folklore and legend that would serve as an inspiration for his later writings Washington Irving DISCAt nineteen Mr Irving began writing satirical letters under the pseudonym Jonathan Oldstyle He wrote to a newspaper owned by his brother Peter named the New York Morning Chronicle His first book Salmagundi was a collaboration with another brother William and their friend James Kirke Paulding This book satirized early New York theater and poked fun at the political social and cultural life of the city Washington Irvings second book A History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty is narrated by the fictitious Diedrich Knickerbocker This book
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