Washington Irving and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" | Sleepy Hollow Westchester County New York
Early evening over the Bear Mountain Bridge

 Go Back  

Washington Irving and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"

Sleepy Hollow

Westchester County

photo of the Gravestone of Washington Irving, grave of Washington Irving, creator of the short story genre, Visit Sunnyside in Tarrytown, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent, Washington Irving and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"

Click to enlarge photo of Sunnyside, Washington Irving's Riverside Home in Tarrytown.

Click to enlarge photo of Gravestone of Washington Irving.
Visit Sunnyside in Tarrytown, New York
Washington Irving lived the last 25 years of his life at Sunnyside, his home set along the Hudson River, in Tarrytown, New York. Washington Irving’s meticulously restored home is filled with the author’s possessions including his writing desk and books. Originally a Dutch farmer’s house, it is now a property of the non-profit Historic Hudson Valley and open for tours.

About Washington Irving
Washington Irving's first book, Salmagundi (1807–08), was a collaboration with his brother William and a mutual friend James Paulding. This highly popular collection of short pieces poked fun at the political, social, and cultural life of the city. However, he is best known for his short stories including "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow". Washington Irving was buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery on December 1, 1859.

Irving is best known for his fictional works, including a collection of 34 essays and short stories written during his stay in England. This work became known as The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent and included the short stories "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow". Irving also wrote several biographies, including a five-volume biography of George Washington, in addition to many historical writings. After leaving England, Irving spent the last 25 years of his life at his estate 'Sunnyside', set along the shores of the Hudson River in Tarrytown, New York, where he died on November 28, 1859.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Read for the first time, or revisit excerpts from "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow". Experience the thrilling chill of your first introduction to this wonderfully scary story about Ichabod Crane and his adventure in Sleepy Hollow.

A fun thing to do on Halloween is to collect family and friends and read allowed the complete or partial text of the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" - hopefully it will be a windy and dark rainy night . Following are selected passages of this famous and beautifully written story.

    "A pleasing land of drowsy head it was,
    Of dreams that wave before the half-shut eye;
    And of gay castles in the clouds that pass,
    Forever flushing round a summer sky."
    Castle of Indolence

    We are introduced to Tarry Town (Sleepy Hollow) and the tone of the story to follow.
    "In the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad expansion of the river denominated by the ancient Dutch navigators the Tappan Zee, and where they always prudently shortened sail and implored the protection of St. Nicholas when they crossed, there lies a small market town or rural port, which by some is called Greensburgh, but which is more generally and properly known by the name of Tarry Town. This name was given, we are told, in former days, by the good housewives of the adjacent country, from the inveterate propensity of their husbands to linger about the village tavern on market days. Be that as it may, I do not vouch for the fact, but merely advert to it, for the sake of being precise and authentic. Not far from this village, perhaps about two miles, there is a little valley or rather lap of land among high hills, which is one of the quietest places in the whole world. A small brook glides through it, with just murmur enough to lull one to repose; and the occasional whistle of a quail or tapping of a woodpecker is almost the only sound that ever breaks in upon the uniform tranquility."

    We are introduced to Ichabod Crane, the story's protagonist
    "From his half-itinerant life, also, he was a kind of travelling gazette, carrying the whole budget of local gossip from house to house, so that his appearance was always greeted with satisfaction. He was, moreover, esteemed by the women as a man of great erudition, for he had read several books quite through, and was a perfect master of Cotton Mather's "History of New England Witchcraft," in which, by the way, he most firmly and potently believed."

    Listen and smell the sounds and scent of the forest in Irving's prose.
    “The forests had put on their sober brown and yellow, while some trees of the tenderer kind had been nipped by the frosts into brilliant dyes of orange, purple, and scarlet. Streaming files of wild ducks began to make their appearance high in the air; the back of the squirrel might be heard from the groves of beech and hickory-nuts, and the pensive whistle of the quail at intervals from the neighboring stubble field. The small birds were taking their farewell banquets. In the fullness of their revelry, they fluttered, chirping and frolicking from bush to bush, and tree to tree, capricious from the very profusion and variety around them. There was the honest cock robin, the favorite game of stripling sportsmen, with its loud querulous note; and the twittering blackbirds flying in sable clouds; and the golden-winged woodpecker with his crimson crest, his broad black gorget, and splendid plumage; and the cedar bird, with its red-tipt wings and yellow-tipt tail and its little monteiro cap of feathers; and the blue jay, that nosy coxcomb, in his gay light blue coat and white underclothes, screaming and chattering, nodding and bobbing and bowing, and pretending to be on good terms with every songster of the grove.”

    Who are the inhabitants of Sleepy Hollow?
    "From the listless repose of the place, and the peculiar character of its inhabitants, who are descendants from the original Dutch settlers, this sequestered glen has long been known by the name of SLEEPY HOLLOW, and its rustic lads are called the Sleepy Hollow Boys throughout all the neighboring country. A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere. Some say that the place was bewitched by a High German doctor, during the early days of the settlement; others, that an old Indian chief, the prophet or wizard of his tribe, held his powwows there before the country was discovered by Master Hendrick Hudson. Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power, that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them to walk in a continual reverie. They are given to all kinds of marvelous beliefs; are subject to trances and visions, and frequently see strange sights, and hear music and voices in the air. The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in any other part of the country, and the nightmare, with her whole ninefold, seems to make it the favorite scene of her gambols."

    Superstitions and Nightmares
    “They are given to all kinds of marvellous beliefs; are subject to trances and visions; and frequently see strange sights, and hear music and voices in the air.”

    Spoiler Alert - Conclusion of Legend of Sleepy Hollow
    "It is true, an old farmer, who had been down to New York on a visit several years after, and from whom this account of the ghostly adventure was received, brought home the intelligence that Ichabod Crane was still alive; that he had left the neighborhood partly through fear of the goblin and Hans Van Ripper, and partly in mortification at having been suddenly dismissed by the heiress; that he had changed his quarters to a distant part of the country; had kept school and studied law at the same time; had been admitted to the bar; turned politician; electioneered; written for the newspapers; and finally had been made a justice of the Ten Pound Court. Brom Bones, too, who, shortly after his rival's disappearance conducted the blooming Katrina in triumph to the altar, was observed to look exceedingly knowing whenever the story of Ichabod was related, and always burst into a hearty laugh at the mention of the pumpkin; which led some to suspect that he knew more about the matter than he chose to tell."

    "The old country wives, however, who are the best judges of these matters, maintain to this day that Ichabod was spirited away by supernatural means; and it is a favorite story often told about the neighborhood round the winter evening fire. The bridge became more than ever an object of superstitious awe; and that may be the reason why the road has been altered of late years, so as to approach the church by the border of the millpond. The schoolhouse being deserted soon fell to decay, and was reported to be haunted by the ghost of the unfortunate pedagogue and the plowboy, loitering homeward of a still summer evening, has often fancied his voice at a distance, chanting a melancholy psalm tune among the tranquil solitudes of Sleepy Hollow."

Things To Do at Sunnyside
Children's historical games and activities
Gift Shop
Learn about the life of Washington Irving while touring his Sunnyside home
Picnic on the grounds of Sunnyside
Tour Irving's Sunnyside home with interpreters in mid-19th century dress
Walk the beautifully landscaped gardens and grounds overlooking the Hudson River.

Historic Sites in Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown
  • Visit Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate in Sleepy Hollow.
  • Visit Lyndhurst in Tarrytown.
  • Visit the Old Dutch Church at Sleepy Hollow.
  • Visit Patriots Park in Tarrytown.
  • Visit the Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse.
  • Visit Historic Sunnyside Washington Irving's home at Sunnyside

  • Children's Attractions in Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown
  • Enjoy Family Fun Day at Lyndhurst Historic Site in Tarrytown.
  • Learn about a spy in the American Revolution - John André.
  • Visit Patriots Park in Tarrytown.
  • Visit Historic Philipsburg Manor Historic Site for kids.
  • Visit Historic Sunnyside, Washington Irving's home in Tarrytown, offering games and activities for kids.
  • Visit Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse. Learn how a family lived and protected ships on the Hudson River.
  • Celebrate Halloween in Sleepy Hollow.
  • Celebrate The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
  • Spooky fun things to do on Halloween include a Tour the Old Dutch Church & Burying Ground

    • Visit the Old Dutch Church & Burying Ground and find places mentioned in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow where "The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure on horseback, without a head. It is said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannon-ball, in some nameless battle during the Revolutionary War, and who is ever and anon seen by the country folk hurrying along in the gloom of night, as if on the wings of the wind. His haunts are not confined to the valley, but extend at times to the adjacent roads, and especially to the vicinity of a church at no great distance. Indeed, certain of the most authentic historians of those parts, who have been careful in collecting and collating the floating facts concerning this spectre, allege that the body of the trooper having been buried in the churchyard, the ghost rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head, and that the rushing speed with which he sometimes passes along the Hollow, like a midnight blast, is owing to his being belated, and in a hurry to get back to the churchyard before daybreak."
      "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving

    Location: Sleepy Hollow

    Historic Sites | Historic Hudson Valley Historic Hudson Valley | Sleepy Hollow Historic Sites | Westchester Historic Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley
    Historic Sites for Kids Historic Sites for Kids | Sleepy Hollow Historic Sites for Kids | Westchester Historic Sites for Kids | Hudson Valley
    Hudson River Towns Hudson River Towns | Sleepy Hollow Hudson River Towns | Westchester Hudson River Towns | Hudson Valley

    Looking for something else...
    Web WestchesterTowns.com