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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 as an American literary formBorn 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 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 as an essayist and wit and this reputation was enhanced by his next work A History of New York 1809 ostensibly written by Irvings famous comic creation the Dutch-American scholar Diedrich Knickerbocker The work is a satirical account of New York State during the period of Dutch occupation 1609-1664 Irvings mocking tone and comical descriptions of early American life counterbalanced the nationalism prevalent in much American writing of the time Generally considered the first important contribution to American comic literature and a great popular success from the start the work brought Irving considerable fame and financial rewardIn 1815 Irving went to Liverpool England as a silent partner in his brothers commercial firm When after a series of losses the business went into bankruptcy in 1818 Irving returned to writing for
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