Irving was born in Manhattan the same week that city residents learned of the ceasefire ending the American Revolution.
Irving is considered the first truly American writer by some, and was among the first American writers to earn acclaim in Europe.
He is best known for his short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," and "Rip Van Winkle." Both of these stories appeared in his book, "The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. Irving also wrote historical books, and a series about the "west."
Irving contributed the nickname "Gotham" for New York City, and may have coined the expression, "The almighty dollar." He also created the association between the name "Knickerbocker" and New York with his Dutch-Historian Pseudonym, Diderich Knickerbocker. He also was inspired to feature a dream sequence of St. Nicholas soaring over the treetops in a flying wagon, as would later be used for Santa Claus.
After achieving success, Irving encouraged American authors who came after him such as Hawthorne, Melville, Longfellow, and Poe.
Irving also served as a diplomat, appointed Secretary to the American Legation in London in July, 1829. In 1842, Irving was appointed Minister to Spain.
Irving returned from Spain and took up permanent residence in his home, Sunnyside, in Tarrytown, NY. When John Jacob Astor died in 1848, Irving was hired as an executor of Astor's estate, and was appointed by Astor's will, as the first chairman of the Astor Library, which eventually was part of the formation of what is now the New York Public Library.
Irving died in his beloved Sunnyside at 76 years old, on November 28, 1859, and was buried in the Sleepy Hollow cemetary on December 1, 1859.