The Birth of Washington Irving

Mercury = 011
Mars = 100
Jupiter = 110
Uranus = 111
Sun = 211
Venus = 301
Saturn = 301
Pluto = 311
Neptune = 312
Moon = 321

Node = non-Transcendental (221)

[Least aspected Mercury]

Washington Irving

Primary Transcendental Mercury, Secondary Mars, Tertiary Transcendental Jupiter.

Apr 3, 1783
8.30.00 PM LMT (+00)
New York, NY
73W57'00"; 40N45'00"
Asc: 09 Sc 12; Mc: 17 Le 17

Source: Lois M. Rodden, "Astro-Data II," citing "AA: R.H. Oliver, family Bible quoted by Memorial Museum."

Additional information: "Irving, Washington (1783-1859), was one of the first American authors to win recognition in Europe as well as the United States. He became famous for his humorous stories and for his satirical essays, which poked fun at New York City's fashionable society. At various times, Irving also was a lawyer, a businessman, and a United States diplomat to England and Spain.

"Irving's best-known works include two short stories, "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." In "Rip Van Winkle," the title character falls asleep for 20 years and awakens to find everything different. "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" tells about Ichabod Crane, a poor schoolmaster, and his encounter with a headless horseman. Irving lived during the period when the United States began to develop an artistic culture of its own. His literary achievements influenced other American writers and helped gain respect for American literature among critics in other countries.

"Early career. Irving was born in New York City and attended school until he was nearly 15 years old. He later went to work in a law office to study law. Irving became interested in writing while in his teens, and his first published works appeared in 1802 and 1803. They were in the form of letters to the Morning Chronicle, a New York City newspaper edited by his brother Peter. The letters ridiculed New York society, and they made Irving known among New Yorkers. In 1807 and 1808, he helped his brother William and James K. Paulding, William's brother-in-law, write satirical essays for their magazine, Salmagundi.

"Irving eventually became a lawyer, but his interest in the law gave way to his love for writing. He abandoned his law practice in 1809, and his first book was published that same year. It was called A History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty. Irving wrote this book under the name of Diedrich Knickerbocker, an eccentric man who became one of the author's most popular characters. Knickerbocker's History of New York, as the book is usually known, is a boisterous, satirical account of the state during its colonial past and in Irving's day.

"Many prominent New York families were offended by the history because it ridiculed their ancestors. But the book was a major comic triumph. It shows Irving's knowledge of history and his familiarity with the works of earlier writers of comic literature. The Knickerbocker tales are a beloved part of New York folklore.

"Years in Europe. In 1810, Irving joined his family's hardware company. He went to England in 1815 to help run a branch of the business there. The company failed in 1818, freeing Irving to dedicate himself entirely to literature.

"While in England, Irving wrote The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (1819-1820). This book consists of a series of essays, stories, and other short pieces about the United States and England. The Sketch Book, as it is commonly called, won Irving--and American literature--the respect of European critics. The book includes Irving's two most important works, "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." With these tales, Irving reached the peak of his achievement in humorous writing. The tales also marked the acceptance of the short story as an important literary form in America. Bracebridge Hall (1822), which followed The Sketch Book, also emphasizes British settings but was a less successful book.

"Irving stayed in Europe until 1832. He traveled to many countries and was influenced by European traditions and by European authors, especially Sir Walter Scott. The writing in much of The Sketch Book and in many of Irving's later works shows this European influence. For example, the narrators in these works sound much more polite and refined than the ones in his earlier writings. Also, the style in some of the later works seems overly sentimental. It lacks the originality and power that Irving had shown earlier.

"Irving's stay in Europe also affected his selection of subjects. "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," though set in America, had been based on German folk tales. During his travels, Irving's interest in folklore increased, and he collected tales in each country he visited. Tales of a Traveller (1824) chiefly explores German and Italian themes.

"In 1826, Irving became a U.S. diplomat in Spain and began to study and write about Spanish themes. His works from this period include History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus (1828), The Conquest of Granada (1829), and The Alhambra (1832). In 1829, Irving joined the U.S. diplomatic staff in London.

"Later writings. Irving returned to New York in 1832. Later that year, he set out on a visit to the Western frontier. Irving described this trip in A Tour on the Prairies, the first in a series of books called The Crayon Miscellany (1835).

"Irving settled at his home, Sunnyside, near Tarrytown, N.Y., and turned from fiction to writing history and biography. In 1842, he was appointed United States minister to Spain. He served there for four years and then returned to Sunnyside, where he lived for the rest of his life. In 1859, Irving completed The Life of George Washington, an impressive five-volume biography. He died shortly after finishing the last volume.

"Irving's place in literature. During his lifetime, Irving was admired as a leading American author. Today, he is not considered the creative equal of such other major writers of his time as James Fenimore Cooper, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Edgar Allan Poe. However, Irving's style and choice of subjects greatly influenced those and other writers. For example, his imaginative treatment of historical themes and his use of folklore and other elements of romanticism promoted the romantic literary movement in the United States.

"Irving's early works set an example for humorous writing, which later became an important part of American literature. In addition, Irving helped establish the short story as a popular literary form in the United States."
World Book Encyclopedia, CD-Rom edition, 1997.


Updated: 8 Sept 2005

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