About the Author
Biographical Note Irving was born in New York on April 3, 1783. His father had come from the extreme north of Scotland, his mother from the extreme south of England; they had become American citizens by the fact of the Revolution a few years before the birth of their son. The elder Irving, a well-to-do merchant, destined the future author for the law, and he was in fact later called to the bar, though he practiced little. But his legal education was interrupted by an illness which led to a stay of two years in Europe. After he came home in 1806, he joined with his brother and J. K. Paulding in the production of the satirical miscellany, “Salmagundi,” and in 1809 published his first important work, “A History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty” by “Diedrich Knickerbocker.” In 1815 Irving went to England on business, but he was unsuccessful in averting the disaster which threatened the commercial house in which he was a partner, and when he turned to writing again it was as a profession rather than as an amusement. His “Sketch Book” came out in 1819–1820, and was followed by “Bracebridge Hall” in 1822 and “Tales of a Traveller” in 1824. These works met with gratifying success, and the author was now able to indulge in farther travel. During a prolonged residence at Madrid, he wrote his “Life and Voyages of Columbus,” and, after a sojourn in the south of Spain, his “Conquest of Granada” (1829) and “The Alhambra” (1832). Meantime he was appointed secretary to the American Embassy at London, a post which he held for three years. When he returned to America in 1832 after an absence of seventeen years, he was welcomed with great enthusiasm by his countrymen, who appreciated what he had done for the prestige of American literature in Europe.
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