Washington Irving


  • Title: Old Christmas: From the Sketchbook of Washington Irving
  • Author: Washington Irving, Illustrator- Randolph Caldecott
  • Publication Date: 1886
  • Publisher: London: Macmillan

Washington Irving began writing The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon while living in England. It was published as a serial and included some of the most famous short stories in history including: “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, “Rip Van Winkle”, and “The Spectre of the Bridegroom”. Pieces in Sketchbook included essays, short stories, and reflections of an American in England. Below are images of Irving’s Christmas tales included in Sketchbook illustrated by Randolph Caldecott, of Caldecott Award. (source: archive.org, University California Berkley.

Petersheim (2012) claims that Irvings work is a critique on the English view of American’s. The story features Geoffrey Crayon, an English protagonist with an American’s voice. Specifically, he notes of Irving’s work coming after the War of 1812, “This political development made American identity a renewed concern that invited contrast rather than identification with England. Alfred Bendixen argues convincingly that the ‘pseudonym of ‘Geoffrey Crayon, Gent’ must be regarded as an assertion of American capabilities, a rejection of foreign critiques of American vulgarity and crudeness, and an insistence that citizens of the new democracy possessed the refinement needed to appreciate and judge the achievements of European culture” (p. 199). By the time Irving returned to the U.S. he was celebrity.

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