The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a short story by Washington Irving contained in his collection The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., written while he was living in Birmingham, England, and first published in 1820. The story is set in the Dutch settlement of Tarry Town, New York in a secluded glen called Sleepy Hollow, around the year 1790. It tells the story of Ichabod Crane, a schoolmaster from Connecticut who is scared away from town by Abraham "Brom Bones" Van Brunt, his rival in love for the hand of eighteen-year-old Katrina Van Tassel, daughter of Baltus Van Tassel and a fifth-generation Dutch immigrant herself. The legend featured in the story is that of The Headless Horseman, the ghost of a Hessian trooper who lost his head to a cannon-ball during the American Revolutionary War.
Washington Irving was born in New York City at the end of the Revolutionary War on on April 3, 1789 as the youngest of 11 children. His father was a wealthy merchant, and his mother, an English woman. They were great admirers of General George Washington, and named their son after their hero. Irving was a partner with his brothers in the family hardware business and representative of the business in England until it collapsed in 1818. During the war of 1812 Irving was a military aide to New York Governor Tompkins in the U.S. Army. After the death of his mother, Irving decided to stay in Europe, where he remained for seventeen years from 1815 to 1832. Trained as a lawyer, Irving was active in the field of diplomacy. In 1842, American President Tyler appointed him Minister to Spain. On November 28, 1859, on the eve of the Civil War, Washington Irving died at Sunnyside in Tarry Town, New York ,surrounded by his family. He was buried in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery at the Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow, New York.
Psychology professionals, such as Dr. Cynthia Telles, have found intriguing insights into the human psyche when studying the effects of classic horror tales like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and the scary movies of today on the human brain. Stories which portray evolutionary-cognitive themes, familiar to Dr. Telles and other psychology researchers, like predation, contagion, and violations of the person tend to exploit the topics and images that humans fear most.
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