Top 10 Notes: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Born in 1873 in New York City, Washington Irving was known for being a writer, historian and diplomat. But he is most famous for his short stories, most notably “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” The latter is a work of speculative fiction that continues to be popular today. Welcome to and in this installment of Mojo Notes, we’ll be exploring ten things you should know about Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Special thanks to our user Katelyn Sincavage for submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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This is the most famous story of a Headless Horseman and a schoolmaster. Welcome to and in this installment of Mojo Notes, we’ll be exploring ten things you should know about Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

#10: About the Author

Born in 1783 in New York City, U.S.A., Washington Irving made his professional debut writing for a New York newspaper under a pen name. After completing his first book, he worked as an editor and found worldwide success with a collection of essays and short stories. Irving also found wrote historical pieces and biographies. He died in 1859.

#9: Influences and Inspirations

After relocating to England to help his family business following the War of 1812, Irving started to publish works from a collection entitled “The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.” This included “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” which is a work of speculative fiction. The short story’s supernatural elements were probably inspired by German folktales while its characters were based on people he met.

#8: Settings and Era

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is set in New York in the Tarry Town settlement in 1790. The main action takes place in an isolated, long and deep valley called Sleepy Hollow.
This area, also known as a glen, gained notoriety because a ghost called the Headless Horseman supposedly haunts it.

#7: Plot

The narrator of Irving’s short story is a man named Diedrich Knickerbocker, who claims he’s retelling the tale of a man from Manhattan. From this third person objective point of view, we learn the legend of Ichabod Crane. This schoolmaster wants to marry a young woman named Katrina Van Tassel. However, so does the town hero Abraham “Brom Bones” Van Brunt. Following an unsuccessful proposal attempt, Crane makes his way home from the harvest party. Already anxious from having passed several spots that are supposedly haunted, Crane meets a giant, but silent, cloaked horseman. He becomes afraid when he sees what he thinks is the horseman’s head on his saddle. While Crane tries to escape, the horseman throws the head at the schoolmaster that night, Crane is never seen or heard from again; though his clothes, his horse and a smashed pumpkin remain.

#6: Ichabod Crane

Ichabod Crane is a tall, skinny and superstitious schoolmaster from Connecticut. While he’s fascinated by scary tales, his strong belief in them actually makes him afraid of them. Though he wants her to like him as well, Crane wants to marry Katrina more for her father’s money than out of actual love for her. Because of his greed, anger, and fear, Ichabod is an unlikable character and essentially the story’s anti-hero.

#5: Abraham “Brom Bones” Van Brunt

Brom Bones is Ichabod’s main rival for Katrina’s affections. He’s the opposite of Crane, with his strong, tough and manly ways. He’s a very good horseback rider and has many friends. He knows Crane is easily rattled so he likes to play pranks, which causes further tension. While we’re never definitively told what happens to Crane after his encounter with the Headless Horseman, the short story suggests Brom may have been the so-called ghost.

#4: Katrina and Baltus Van Tessel

The 18-year-old Katrina is the only child of Baltus Van Tassel. Because of her father’s riches, both Ichabod and Brom want to marry her. Not much is known about her except that she’s good-looking, knows how to dress and can use men to get what she wants. Meanwhile, her father Baltus is a joyous and loving man who is happy with the wealth his farm has provided him.

#3: Values and Themes

Irving’s short story explores many different themes, like the pursuit of wealth and how greed and gluttony can get the best of people. It touches upon the nature of truth, what it’s like to be an outsider, and the relationships between man versus nature and man versus the supernatural.

#2: Modern Popularity

Along with the short story “Rip Van Winkle,” which was also published in “The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.”, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” helped bring Irving to great popularity around the world. He became one of the first American writers to be able to live off his work and the short story is one of the most studied pieces of literature today.

#1: Adaptations

While it’s been adapted for the stage, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” has also been referenced in various media and adapted for film and television. This includes animated versions, made-for-TV movies and the 1999 feature film.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite piece of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” trivia? With new top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to

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