Washington Irving collection
Scope and Contents
The collection provides evidence of the personal and professional life of Washington Irving and dates from 1802 to 1966. The collection documents Irving's writing career, diplomatic work, and travels through Europe, and consists of correspondence, writings, personal papers, and printed material.
Irving’s creative process can be traced in notebooks and handwritten drafts. The collection includes notes and an autograph manuscript for volumes four and five of Irving's final book Life of George Washington. The various manuscript fragments contained in the collection also illustrate the American public's fascination with Irving and the culture of collecting souvenirs related to his life and writings. For this reason the majority of Irving's drafts are incomplete; for example, the library acquired two leaves from The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus at separate times and which are from different sections of the original manuscript. A small amount of correspondence with publishers and authors, including Charles Dickens and Sir Walter Scott, also reflect Irving's literary life. Irving's letter to William C. Preston expresses his views regarding the copyright of his works within an international context.
A few documents relating to Irving's work as a diplomat in England and Spain are also part of the collection. These include a passport with Irving's signature in his role as Secretary to the American Legation in London. Irving's correspondence with diplomat Prince Dmitrii Ivanovich Dolgorukii and Scottish painter Sir David Wilkie reflect his experience in Spain. Notably, correspondence with Prince Dmitrii Ivanovich Dolgorukii also includes Dolgorouki's correspondence from Sir David Wilkie, in which Wilkie discusses his painting and work for King George IV of England.
Irving’s personal life can be traced in his correspondence with his siblings and their children (particularly his sister Catherine Rodgers Irving Paris and her daughter Sarah Sanders Paris Storrow). The collection also includes journals belonging to Emily Foster to whom Irving is believed to have proposed marriage. Documents relating to Irving's brothers -- namely John Treat and Peter -- are also included in the collection. The collection contains John Treat Irving's "Simon Pure Papers" (for which Washington Irving drew illustrations) and Peter Irving's journals describing his travels in Europe.
Stanley T. Williams's The Life of Washington Irving and extra-illustrated publications of Irving's writings attest to his reputation and lasting influence.
- 1802 - 1972
Language of Materials
Chiefly in English; some materials are in Spanish.
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
The Washington Irving Collection is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Acquired from various sources. For more information see catalog cards filed in the collection.
Organized into four series: I. Correspondence, 1804-1885. II. Writings, 1802-1972. III. Other Papers, 1807-1831. IV. Printed Material, 1850-1882.
9.8 Linear Feet (25 boxes)
The collection provides evidence of the personal and professional life of Washington Irving and dates from 1802 to 1966. The collection documents Irving's writing career, diplomatic work, and travels through Europe, and consists of correspondence, writings, personal papers, and printed material. Correspondents include: Thomas Aspinwall, Dmitrii Ivanovich Dolgorukii, Catherine Rodgers Irving Paris, Sarah Sanders Paris Storrow, and Moses Thomas. The collection includes journals belonging to Emily Foster with whom Irving was acquainted while living in Dresden. Documents relating to Irving's brothers can also be found in the collection; these include a manuscript notebook of John Treat Irving's "Simon Pure Papers" and Peter Irving's journals describing his travels in Europe. The collection contains an mezzotint portrait of Irving and engraved illustrations for his publications.
Washington Irving (1783-1859)
Washington Irving was an American author and statesman best known for his satirical History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty (1809) and short stories "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" published in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (1819–1820). Irving also served as Secretary to the American Legation in England from 1829 to 1832 and as Minister to Spain from 1842 to 1846.
Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, competing priorities, and whether or not further accruals are expected. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.
The collection was largely catalogued prior to the creation of the finding aid. At that time it was loosely organized into genres and then arranged alphabetically. Individual catalogue cards were created for each document and each document was assigned a specific call number. Printed material was catalogued separately and assigned call numbers (Za Ir 8 +G1).
Former call numbers: Za Irving, Za Ir 8 +G1, Uncat Za File 519, Uncat Za File 520, Uncat Za File 521, Uncat Za File 522, and Uncat Za File 523.
This collection includes materials previously identified by multiple call numbers.
- American literature -- 19th century
- Aspinwall, Thomas, 1786-1876
- Authors and publishers
- Authors, American -- 19th century -- Archives
- Authors, American -- New York (State)
- Dolgorukiĭ, D. I., kni︠a︡zʹ (Dmitriĭ Ivanovich), -1867
- Engravings (prints)
- Foster, Emily, 1804?-1885
- Irving, John Treat, 1812-1906
- Irving, Peter, 1772-1838
- Irving, Washington, 1783-1859
- Novelists, American
- Paris, Catherine Rodgers Irving
- Storrow, Sarah Sanders Paris
- Thomas, Moses, 1787-1865
- Travelers' writings, American
- Wilkie, David, Sir, 1785-1841
- Guide to the Washington Irving Collection
- by Beinecke Staff
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository
P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
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