Washington Irving was born the year the Revolutionary War ended, in 1783. Because the new country had a new President named George Washington, many children born around the time the Revolutionary War ended were named after the President. So, Washington Irving grew up in New York City and was the kind of child that searched for adventure. He was fascinated with life and everything that happened in it. Eventually, he went to study in Europe as many young people did, and when he returned, he was considered America’s first great literary figure. He wrote the collection of stories called, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gentleman. Both of Washington Irving’s famous stories of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle” are found in this collection.
But we at Sunbonnet Smart have another reason to consider this successful author, acclaimed on two continents. Washington Irving, at one time in his life, went bankrupt! It is interesting the bankruptcy had to be declared in the Irving family for the same reason many people declared bankruptcy today, not for spending foolishly, but because of medical emergencies that deplete personal assets, the income of which is also severely limited by the ill person’s loss of salary.
In 1815 his brother Peter, who was in charge of the Liverpool office of the family import business, had fallen ill and the family company was not doing well. As Washington Irving was in England on a non-business trip at the time, it was natural that he stay and help Peter out by trying to run the family business. Although he worked hard for two years, he could not pull the company out of it’s decline and had to declare bankruptcy.
It is noteworthy that because of hardship, because of a negative life incident like bankruptcy, Washington Irving turned to seriously publishing his writing to bring in extra income. And what a wonderful thing for all of us that he did. It is just amazing how many downturns are actually just a shift in our options. Because of hardship, we end up trying things we never would have otherwise. Trust me when I say this, as I am now a web master. Who would have known?
It is interesting that Washington Irving’s hardships in managing a declining business and suffering through two years of worry over finances encouraged his flexible temperament. This positive attitude will be recognized as an asset to a productive future by all Sunbonnet Smart readers. It is noted that he once wrote in a letter to his brother William, Jr., “I endeavor to take things as they come with cheerfulness and when I cannot get a dinner to suit my taste, I endeavor to get a taste to suit my dinner”.
This Disney version of Washington Irving’s
Legend of Sleepy Hollow was first televised
on October 26, 1955, exactly 55 years ago TODAY!