Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Irving, Washington, 1783-1859.
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Washington Irving Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box and 0.2 linear feet
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1


Consists of selected manuscripts, correspondence, and documents of Washington Irving, often called the first American man of letters.

Collection Description & Creator Information


The collection consists of selected manuscripts, correspondence, and documents of Washington Irving. The manuscripts include a holograph leaf for his book The Alhambra, eight holograph leaves titled "Illustration to the Legend of Prince Ahmed," and one holograph leaf labeled "ch. 17." The correspondence includes letters to Benjamin F. Butler, Stephen C. Massett, Pliny Miles, Charles Scribner (founder of the publishing house of Charles Scribner's Sons), and Robert C. Winthrop. Also included are an incomplete document which bears Irving's signature as executor, a signed portrait engraving of Irving, and some original pencil sketches which may have been for an edition of Irving's A History of New-York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, first published in 1809.

Collection Creator Biography:

Irving, Washington, 1783-1859.

Washington Irving, often called the first American man of letters and father of the American short story, was an author, essayist, travel book writer, biographer, and columnist; he is best known for his short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle." He was born in New York City as the youngest of eleven children. He studied law but practiced only briefly. His career as a writer started in journals and newspapers. He traveled widely in Europe, and it was after a seventeen-year period abroad with his brothers in England that he returned to the United States as the famous American author "Geoffrey Crayon," having successfully published The Sketch-Book (in New York in 1819 and in London in 1820) while he was away. In 1842 he was appointed minister to Spain, and in 1846 Irving retired to "Sunnyside," the family home in Tarrytown, N.Y., where he continued to write.

Collection History


The manuscript pages for "Illustration to the Legend of Prince Ahmed" were a gift of Philip Ashton Rollins, Princeton Class of 1889, in May 1940 .

Custodial History

The collection was formed as a result of a Departmental practice of combining into one collection material of various accessions relating to a particular person, family, or subject.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

Folder inventory added by Nicholas Williams '2015 in 2012.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

Washington Irving Collection; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184