Born to a wealthy merchant family on this day in New York City, Washington Irving (1783-1859) studied law and wrote short stories while traveling through Europe acting as an agent for his family's business.
"There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have often found in traveling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one's position, and be bruised in a new place," he once explained.
Irving published his first book in 1809, then traveled through Europe after the death of his fiance. He said, "There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse; as I have found in traveling in a stage-coach, that it is often a comfort to shift one's position and be bruised in a new place."
He began writing again in 1819, finishing the nostalgic Sketch Book. The book featured the classic tales of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, with its memorable character Ichabod Crane, and Rip Van Winkle, the man who slept through the American Revolution.
Irving's narration helped develop a new literary form-- the modern short story, later improved upon by Edgar Allen Poe. "Great minds have purposes, others have wishes," Irving said.
He achieved international success and was called "America's first man of letters" as he wrote about the Old World and New World from an American perspective. He once said, "A barking dog is often more useful than a sleeping lion."
"A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles."
Your heart sparks heavenly fire.