Tales of the Alhambra
Author: Washington Irving
Date First Published: 01/07/1832
Tales of the Alhambra is a collection of essays, verbal sketches, and stories by Washington Irving. Irving lived at the Alhambra Palace in Granada while writing some of the material for his book.
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 with success of "The legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle" He travelled to Paris in 1821 and thence to Madrid in 1826 as historical document about the Americas had been released.
In 1829 he journeyed from Seville to Granada where he immediately asked the then-governor of the historic Alhambra Palace as well as the archbishop of Granada for access, which was granted because of his celebrity status. When he took up residence in the Alhambra palace when it was in an abandoned state. He wrote "Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada" (1829).
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 short 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.
There is now an official tourist route from Seville to Granada named after him. Ruta de Washington Irving It links many interesting villages such as Montefrio en route. However the whole journey is told in the first 20 pages in the book. Unfortunately there is very little description of locations or any evidence of the route he actually took.
Irving continued to travel through Spain until 1829 when he was appointed as secretary of legation at the United States Embassy in London. Shortly after the publication of Tales of the Alhambra, Irving returned to New York.
There is a Commemorative plaque in at the Alhambra, saying "Washington Irving wrote his Tales of Alhambra in these rooms in 1829"