Dark Origins – The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

This month, my Dark Origins post focuses on the famous American tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which features the well known character, Ichabod Crane. The background to this story is rather interesting. Thank you to Kaye Lynne Booth for hosting this post on Writing to be Read.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a gothic story by American author, Washington Irving, and is included in a collection of 34 essays and short stories entitled The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.

Cover of The Sketch-Book by Washington Irving from Amazon US

The plot

The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane (1858) by John Quidor

The story is set in 1790 in the countryside around the Dutch settlement of Tarry Town, New York. Sleepy Hollow is a secluded glen which is famous for its ghosts and haunting atmosphere.

Ichabod Crane moves to Sleepy Hollow to be the schoolmaster of the village. As was customary at the time, Ichabod earns practically no money, but is provided with lodgings and food on a rotational basis by the local farmers who are also the fathers of the boys he teachers. This arrangement, and the singing lessons he gives on the side, keeps him employed and also gives him numerous opportunities to listen to the many tales about ghosts, haunted spots and twilight superstitions shared by the farmers wives.

Continue reading here: https://writingtoberead.com/2021/04/28/dark-origins-the-legend-of-sleepy-hollow/

33 thoughts on “Dark Origins – The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

        1. Yes, but the limitations are, in my opinion, OTT. My rule for my boys was if they can read it, they may read it. My views on TV shows, movies and other visual media were more conservative. That is because I think you can only really visualise things in a written form within the realms of your own experience of life. Visual media changes that.


  1. I read the Legend of Sleepy Hollow in the fifth grade at my catholic elementary school. I never forgot it because of Ichabod Crane – that unforgettable name. It opens up with a drawing of a headless horsemen running across the dark plains and it was spooky. That part scared the crap out of me. Anyway, Robbie thank you so much for sharing this tale.

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  2. I am very interested in the sentence: “One theory is that Irving’s headless horseman is derived from Sir Walter Scott’s ballad, The Chase, which is a translation of the German author Burger’s The Wild Huntsman.” I did not know this!!!

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    1. Hi Rebecca, there is more to that particular aspect but I don’t like to make these posts to long. Irving met Scott and became friends with him in 1817: “Irving had just met and become friends with Scott in 1817 so it’s very likely he was influenced by his new mentor’s work,” she says, “The poem is about a wicked hunter who is doomed to be hunted forever by the devil and the ‘dogs of hell’ as punishment for his crimes.” If you are interested, you can read more here: https://www.history.com/news/legend-sleepy-hollow-headless-horseman

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    1. Hi Mark, lovely to see you. Europe is a breeding ground for lots of dark myths. I am sure many of these dark ideas were transported to the USA and I’m sure you’ve added a few of your own too. Mr King has scared most of us to death over the years.

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