People - Washington Irving

WASHINGTON IRVING - AUTHOR (1783 - 1859)

Washington Irving was the son of a New York merchant, he was trained in law but gave it up for the family business. When it collapsed he turned to writing but also figured proximately in the diplomatic world. In England he was secretary to the American Embassy and then took up the post in Spain as Ambassador.

In 1829 he journeyed from Seville to Granada and then took up residence in the Alhambra palace when it was in an abandoned state. In Spain he wrote "Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada" (1829) and his best known work "Tales of the Alhambra" which was first published in London in 1832 under the title "The Alhambra; a series of tales and sketches of the Moors and the Spaniards". It weaves a series of stories around the folk with whom he shared his life there. Irving was largely responsible, along with the French writers of the same period, for the Romantic image of Al-Andalus which persists to this day. The book met with immediate success wherever it was published. A best seller of its day.

Irving became one of Americas country's best-known writers and historians. He is known not so much for his descriptive or reflexive powers but for his abilities as a story teller. His true metier lies in the short story. He was responsible for such well know works as "A History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the end of the Dutch Dynasty" (1809) "The Adventures of Captain Bonneville" (1837), "Mohamed and his Successors" (1839), "Oliver Goldsmith" (1849), "The life of Washington" (1859).

There is an now official tourist route from Seville to Granada named after him. It links many interesting villages such as Montefrio en route. The whole journey is told in 20 pages in the book and there is very little description of places or any evidence of the route he actually took.


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