Who was Washington irving?

   Almost every American boy or girl knows the stories of Rip Van Winkle's long sleep and Ichabod Crane's attempt to escape from the headless horseman. Washington Irving (1783-1859) wrote these stories about 200 years ago. Irving is often called the father of American literature. He was the first American writer to be honored in Europe.
   As a boy Irving lived in the city of New York. He was not a strong child. One of the things he liked to do best was to listen to stories told by the descendants of the early Dutch settlers of New York. When later he began writing, he did not use his own name. He used a Dutch name instead— Diedrich Knickerbocker.
   After he grew up, Irving spent much of his time abroad. Some of his writing is about people and places in Europe. But his most famous books are those about America. They tell many of the stories he heard as a boy. His best stories are in The Sketch Book.