We had to read this in English class in high school. Somehow this stuck with me all these years. I think it’s the name, which is unforgettable. So what does that tell you? If you’re ever writing a story, come up with an unforgettable name for your protagonist.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was first published in 1820.
The real Ichabod Crane was a career military officer for 48 years and is likely the namesake for this novel by Washington Irving. Ichabod lived from July 18, 1787 to October 5 1857. He served as commander of many combat missions during his career. He moved up in rank during his service and was transferred all over the country to lead troops. He died while in service in October of 1857 and is buried in Asbury Methodist Cemetery in New Springville Staten Island, not far from his home, along with his wife and an Umpqua Indian, named Juan, who served as his personal valet.
Ichabod's gravestone. Don't you wish they had nice ones like this today?
The story of the headless horseman was popular in American literature, especially around Halloween. The headless horseman was believed to be the soldier who lost his head in a cannonball battle during some unnamed skirmish in the Revolutionary War.
The book depicts Ichabod as a superstitious schoolmaster from Connecticut who wants to marry the only daughter of a wealthy farmer. However, he has competition because the town rowdy also wants the hand of the only daughter. Bones, the local man wanting to marry her, learns of Crane’s fright of ghosts and plays on that to frighten him with scary stories at the harvest party that both the men attend.
Later that night, on the way home to Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod’s imagination runs wild. He encounters the headless horseman at the intersection of a menacing swamp. The cloaked rider holds his head on his saddle. Ichabod is terrified and desperately rides for his life over the bridge where the headless horseman throws his head in Ichabod’s face.
The next morning, Ichabod has disappeared and the farmer’s daughter marries the other man. No one knows what really happens to Ichabod so it’s open to each person’s interpretation.
I even love the name Sleepy Hollow. Somehow that evokes a mystery for me. Do you remember reading this book? I have it on my bookshelf, along with a few of the classic tales from long ago. Wouldn’t it be nice to write a book like this that would live on years after you’re gone?