The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
A short story by Washington Irving
Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is the story of the ill-fated 1790 courtship of Katrina Van Tassel, daughter of a wealthy farmer, by superstitious Yankee schoolmaster Ichabod Crane. Hometown rival Brom Bones makes life difficult for Crane, playing practical jokes and telling ghost stories that alarmed the nervous outsider.
The tale climaxes with a dramatic ride through a dark swamp and an encounter with a headless horseman near a reportedly haunted tree. Ichabod Crane disappears, and the “schoolhouse, being deserted, soon fell to decay, and was reported to be haunted by the ghost of the unfortunate pedagogue; and the plough-boy, loitering homeward of a still summer evening, has often fancied his voice at a distance chanting a melancholy psalm tune among the tranquil solitudes of Sleepy Hollow.”
Irving’s vivid character descriptions convey a distinct impression of each, and his description of Ichabod Crane’s dancing is especially evocative:
“Ichabod prided himself upon his dancing as much as upon his vocal powers. Not a limb, not a fibre about him was idle; and to have seen his loosely hung frame in full motion and clattering about the room you would have thought Saint Vitus himself, that blessed patron of the dance, was figuring before you in person.”
Read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (downloadable PDF: legend-of-sleepy-hollow).
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was first published in 1820 in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., a collection of short stories (Amazon link).
Sleepy Hollow, the place
From the listless repose of the place, and the peculiar character of its inhabitants . . . this sequestered glen has long been known by the name of Sleepy Hollow . . . A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere.Washington Irving, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”