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Portrait of Washington Irving.

April 3, 2018 – Washington Irving, Other Writers’ & Poets’ Birthdays

Today is Tuesday, April 3, 2018. It’s the birthday of the father of the American short story, Washington Irving. And it’s the birthday of writer Dorothy Eden and poet Daniel Hoffman. Our poem for today is by William Blake. It’s titled, “The Sick Rose.” Hope your week is going well. Sending you support and appreciation. Keep up the good work.

Washington Irving

Washington Irving (affiliate link) moved to Liverpool, England, in 1815. He’d already by that time published a satirical history of New York titled, “A History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty.”

Irving had also written articles under a pseudonym for his brother, Peter’s, newspaper, “Morning Chronicle.” He’d edited a collection of Thomas Campbell’s poems. He’d spent a year as editor of Analectic Magazine. And he’d published with his brother, William, and James Kirke Paulding, a series of essays titled, “Salmagundi.”Portrait of Washington Irving.

But his literary efforts didn’t provide Irving with enough income to support himself. He studied the law and passed the bar in 1806.

In 1811, Irving moved to Washington, DC, to work as a lobbyist for his brothers’ company. The business imported hardware from England to the U.S. It’s that firm which took him to Liverpool, where he could look after the company’s manufacturing interests.

On a trip to London, Irving met Sir Walter Scott. The novelist encouraged Irving to continue pursuing writing.

Irving did, releasing in 1820 a collection of stories, “The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.” It contained stories that intermingled satire, fact, and fiction.

Irving set most of the stories in England. These were the tales that readers liked best when the book first published.

But it’s two stories set in America that proved the most enduring of the book’s pieces. “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” seared Irving into the canon of American literature.

Irving released follow-ups to “The Sketch Book” in 1822 and 1824. He took a position in the U.S. embassy in Spain in 1826. There he produced four books about Spain, including a biography of Christopher Columbus.

Irving, born today in 1783 in New York, NY, returned to the U.S. in 1832. He traveled much of the American West, before settling in Tarrytown, NY.

Irving produced many books, including biographies about Muhammad and George Washington. He created the American short story. And he proved that people would read writing by Americans.

Dorothy Eden

Cover of Dorothy Eden's "The Vines of Yarrabee."

Affiliate link

Dorothy Eden (affiliate link) was born today in Canterbury Plains, New Zealand, in 1912. But she fell in love with England while on a trip there with friends and moved to the country in 1954.

There Eden devoted herself to writing, becoming an admired and well-read novelist. She produced works of mystery and romance, including books such as, “Ravenscroft,” “Speak to Me of Love,” and “Crow Hollow.”

Eden’s writing features notable suspense- and fear-driving elements. She was in her time one of the English-reading world’s most prominent authors.

In all, Eden wrote 41 novels and two more books under a pen name, Mary Paradise.

Eden died of cancer in 1982.

Daniel Hoffman

Daniel Hoffman (affiliate link) served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II. His service involved writing about aeronautical research. After the war, he earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Columbia University in New York. He finished his doctorate in 1956.

In 1952, Hoffman published his first book, a biography of the American folk hero Paul Bunyan. Two years later he released his first poetry collection, “An Armada of Thirty Whales.”

Hoffman produced poetry throughout the years. And he taught at Columbia, Swarthmore College, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Hoffman served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 1973-1974.

In 1981 Hoffman published a book-length poem about Pennsylvania founder William Penn, titled “Brotherly Love.” His other work includes an anthology of Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry and books of literary criticism, including inspections of work by Stephen Crane and Robert Frost.

Hoffman received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1983. His many other recognitions include the Hazlett Memorial Award and the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Arthur Rense Poetry Prize.

Hoffman passed away in 2013.

“The Sick Rose”

O Rose, thou art sick:

The invisible worm,

That flies in the night

In the howling storm,


Has found out thy bed

Of crimson joy;

And his dark secret love

Does thy life destroy.

– William Blake (1757-1827), Public Domain

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Comments (4)

  • Julie Zuehlke

    THANK YOU! I appreciate my daily dose of “culture” on this web site. It’s a wonderful follow-up to the defunct Writer’s Almanac.

  • v

    Thank you Nicholas! The tragic ending of Writer’s Almanac still affects me deeply –
    so shockingly abrupt and so hideously handled by Minnesota Public Radio I ltruly look
    forward to your daily posts. Everyone out there: if you care about poetry, literature,
    awareness and inspiration, please email your friends about Bidwell Hollow!!!


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