Washington Irving
(1783-1859)

Died aged c. 76

Washington Irving (April 3, 1783 – November 28, 1859) was an American short story writer, essayist, biographer, historian, and diplomat of the early 19th century. He is best known for his short stories "Rip Van Winkle" (1819) and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (1820), both of which appear in his book The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. His historical works include biographies of George Washington, Oliver Goldsmith and Muhammad, and several histories of 15th-century Spain dealing with subjects such as Christopher Columbus, the Moors and the Alhambra. Irving served as the U.S. ambassador to Spain from 1842 to 1846. He made his literary debut in 1802 with a series of observational letters to the Morning Chronicle, written under the pseudonym Jonathan Oldstyle. After moving to England for the family business in 1815, he achieved international fame with the publication of The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. in 1819–20. He continued to publish regularly—and almost always successfully—throughout his life, and just eight months before his death (at age 76, in Tarrytown, New York), completed a five-volume biography of George Washington. Irving, along with James Fenimore Cooper, was among the first American writers to earn acclaim in Europe, and Irving encouraged American authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Edgar Allan Poe. Irving was also admired by some European writers, including Walter Scott, Lord Byron, Thomas Campbell, Francis Jeffrey, and Charles Dickens. As America's first genuine internationally best-selling author, Irving advocated for writing as a legitimate profession, and argued for stronger laws to protect American writers from copyright infringement.

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Commemorated on 5 plaques

Photo of Washington Irving blue plaque
Spudgun67 on Flickr
Photo of Washington Irving blue plaque
Tim Ellis on Flickr
Photo of The Argent Centre  and Washington Irving bronze plaque
Elliott Brown on Flickr

Washington Irving 1783-1859 American writer lived here

8 Argyll Street, London, United Kingdom where he lived

The American essayist Washington Irving, 1783-1859 lived in a house on this site 1819-1824

Forward Trust Building, Calthorpe Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, United Kingdom where he lived

The Argent Centre The Argent Centre is built on the site where Washington Irving conceived the Rip Van Winkle story. Designed by J.G. Bland for a gold pen manufacturer in 1863 employing 250 people. Florentine window tracing and multi coloured brick fascias make this Grade II listed building and excellent example of Italianate and polychromatic architecture popular in the 19th century. Directors had steam removed from the boilers for a Turkish bath and could also fence, play billiards, chess or recline on luxurious couches which lined their rooms. The premises were converted into small business units by Midland Industrial Assocation in 1988.

The Argent Centre, Legge Lane, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, United Kingdom where he conceived the Rip Van Winkle story

Washington Irving Escribio en estas habitaciones sus Cuentos de la Alhambra en el ano de 1829

The Emperor's Chambers - Nasrid Palaces - The Alhambra, Granada, Spain where he stayed (1828)

Irving House formerly the home of Washington Irving Jnr.

11 Commerce Street, New York, NY, United States where he lived