His History is a Tale to be Told

The next time you watch a terrified Johnny Depp in Sleepy Hollow, spare a thought for the Jewellery Quarter. For it was right here that author Washington Irving penned this famous tale.

In 1815 the journalist Washington Irving left the United States to visit Europe. His tour lasted 17 years, during which time he visited Britain, Germany and France. Whilst in the UK he spent considerable time with his sister, who lived here in the Jewellery Quarter.

Sarah van Wart lived with her husband Henry, an international trader, in an elegant house on the corner of Legge Lane and Fredrick Street. Built in a much sought after part of the Jewellery Quarter, the house stood on land now occupied by the impressive Argent Centre. Irving regularly stayed here and during 1818 they spent an evening reminiscing about the States. Inspired by their conversation, he quickly set to work writing short stories about life back home.

Published in 1819 in a volume called ‘The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon’, these tales would propel Irving to international fame as a writer. By far the most popular of the works penned during his Jewellery Quarter stay were ‘Rip Van Winkle’ and ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’. Deservedly popular in their time, these works are rightly hailed as classics of American fiction and continue to have an impact on popular culture today.