Biographical/historical: Washington Irving was an American author of short stories, travel literature, humorous and historical works, folklore, biographies, and essays. Born on April 3, 1783 in New York, Irving spent several years abroad in both England and Spain. He was the secretary to the American Legation in London from 1829 to 1842 when he was appointed as the U.S. Minister to Spain for four years.
Content: The manuscripts include early holograph drafts and notes for The Alhambra, Communipaw, A history of New York, sections of the Life of George Washington, and notes and fragments of Mahomet and his successors. They also include fragments from the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, portions of text extracted from the Knickerbocker, two packets of holographic notes headed "Alhambra", holograph of Newstead abbey, proverbs apparently from Spanish sources, and notes and incomplete drafts for The sketchbook. The collection also includes an engraved acknowledgement from the Astor Library to William A. Macy; W. C. Bryant's Discourse on the life, genius and and writing of Washington Irving; and holograph notes by P. M. Irving relating to Washington Irving and to the history of the name "Irving." There are two holograph journals by Washington Irving and one journal by his nephew, Pierre, describing the author's last days. The notebooks include three consisting chiefly of memoranda towards Mahomet and his successors; one of rough drafts and incomplete essays; one of notes of a Conversation with William P. Duvall the original of Ralph Ringwood; and another of A tour on the Prairies. The collection also includes a notebook by P. M. Irving with his outline for Life and letters of Washington Irving. There is also a scrapbook of clippings and letters related to Irving gathered by J. C. Peters; and Irving's commonplace book of reading notes and observations on various subjects. The correspondence includes letters written by Irving to Colonel Thomas Aspinwall, Richard Bentley, Henry Brevoort, Catherine D'Oubril, Charles R. Leslie, John Murray, Edgar Allan Poe, William H. Prescott, Daniel Webster, and others. The collection also includes letters from Julia Irving Grinnell to her sister; P. M. Irving to Dr. John C. Peters relating to the death of Irving; Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to Dr. Peters; John C. Peters to Oliver Wendell Holmes; S. T. Williams to W. T. H. Howe, and others related to Irving. There are letters to Irving from Richard Henry Dana, Charles Dickens, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Murray, Philip Henry Stanhope, and others dating from 1807 to 1858.