Sunday, November 27, 2011

This Day in History November 28, 1859

It probably seems morbid to mark the passing of someone on a this day in history segment, but then I don't think it is all that terrible.  I really don't even know much about the person who died on this date in 1859, but his picture is above.  Anyone recognize him?

I am sure most of us have heard of the stories he wrote:  The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle amongst others.  Yes, it is Washington Irving.

He was born April 3, 1873 in New York City to wealthy Scottish-English immigrants.  As you might have guessed, he was named for George Washington (who met him and gave him his blessing in 1879).  He was the eleventh child in the family, and though he was often sickly, he was mischievous and often dreaming of far-off places (fueled by his love of Robinson Crusoe).  His parents were very charitable people, and he did study law (but he did not ultimately practice it).

He was an easygoing person who enjoyed several trips abroad throughout his lifetime. And, of course, that helped him to become one of the first American author to earn a literary reputation in Europe.  I had not realized that he actually wrote under a pseudonym--Geoffrey Crayon.  I would like to know what his thinking was behind that.  But I guess when you look at the time period, pseudonyms were the "in" thing, i.e,, Mark Twain, George Eliot, etc.  Kind of like it used to be the thing to take a stage name if one became an actor or a singer.

Interestingly enough, his first work was in 1802, Morning Chronicle, which was written under another pseudonym--Jonathan Oldstyle.  I think he must have enjoyed making up names.  These are not your normal pen names, I do not believe.  I even find this one somewhat humorous.  And I love this pen name:  Deidrich Knickerbacker.  I would say this man had quite a sense of humor!

I really am trying to keep this brief, but as I was scanning the biography, I discovered that he popularized the term "Gotham" for New York City!   He is also credited with coining the phrase "the Almighty dollar."  He also served as  Minster to Spain from 1842-1848. He did die on this date in 1859 in Tarrytown, New York--he was 76.

There is even more information on these sites if you are interested:


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