Hudson Valley © Author Adventures

Washington Irving, Sunnyside Home in Tarrytown

Washington Irving (1783-1859), best-known for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (published in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. in 1820), lived at Sunnyside in Tarrytown around 1835. His gorgeous home, with its castle-like dignity and peaceful grounds, is open to visitors between May and November. The population of Tarrytown is comparable to a midsize small town.

The Sleepy Hollow short story continues to be read in many middle schools and high schools. Some libraries have the graphic novel version, which is a fun and easy way to follow the classic story.

The Hudson Historic Valley website says his home is like a “three-dimensional autobiography,” which will make sense to you when you see it and meet its guides dressed in period costumes. Ask to borrow a “Traveling Tote.”

About the Author

Washington Irving often traveled and kept company with top government officials. He was a guest at Montpelier, the home of Dolley and James Madison.

According to “Washington Irving, after happily attending one of Dolley Madison’s Wednesday night squeezes, described going from the ‘dirt & darkness’ of Washington City streets ‘into the blazing splendour of Mrs. Madison’s Drawing Room. Here I was most graciously received—found a crowded collection of great and little men, of ugly old women, and beautiful young ones—and in ten minutes was hand and glove with half the people in the assemblage. Mrs. Madison is a fine, portly, buxom dame—who has a smile & pleasant word for every body.’” (This is a quote from Letters of Washington Irving to Henry Brevoort, ed. George S. Hellman, New York, GP Putnam’s Sons, 1915, p. 24- .)

Read more about Washington Irving here: Read a letter written by him here: Library of Congress. Read about Montpelier here: Montpelier in Virginia.

This is the ninth stop on our New York Author Adventures Trail.

Patricia Smart