Washington Irving – un uomo che creò la leggenda americana

Washington Irving (1783 – 1859) was born  in New York City and  was named after (= chiamato col nome del) President George Washington (1732–1799). He was a dreamy boy (= sognatore) fascinated by the theatre and the books: He loved wandering (= vagabondare) around the misty (= nebbioso) Hudson RiverValley: the local tales and legends of this  area  just north of New York City  influenced his writings.
At nineteen-year-old, Irving began publishing  letters for his brother Peter’s newspaper under the pseudonym Jonathan Oldstyle. His first book was Salmagundi (1807–08), written together with his brother, William, and their friend James Kirke Paulding. He got fame (= divenne famoso) with A History of New York in 1809, a comical and imprecise story of New York‘s Dutch colonization  narrated by another pseudonym Diedrich Knickerbocker, a Dutch (= olandese) American.
In 1815 Irving moved to England. Here he tried to save (= salvare) the Liverpool branch (= ramo)  of the family import-export business, but after three years the company was bankrupt (= fece bancarotta) , and he found himself  (= si trovò) without means of support (= mezzi di sostentamento) at age thirty-five. So Irving decided to get his living (= guadagnarsi da vivere) by writing and started recording (= registrando) the impressions, thoughts, and descriptions, which  became the material of The Sketch Book (1817 – 1818), published under  the pseudonym of Geoffrey Crayon.
The Sketch Book is a collection of English sketches, travel pieces, literary essays (= saggi) , descriptions of the American Indian, some unclassifiable pieces, and three short stories – Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and The Spectre Bridegroom.

Still in Europe, Irving wrote Bracebridge Hall; or, the Humorists: A Medley (1822), about a fictitious English clan already introduced in The Sketch Book.
After 1824 Irving published works  about history and biography. In  Spain, he wrote a book about the life of Christopher Columbus (1451–1506) and a history of Granada, Spain. In 1832 he returned to the United States where he toured around western part of the country, as far as Oklahoma. The expedition was described in  three books, but particularly important is A Tour on the Prairies (1835), which provided the easterners (= gli abitanti dell’Est) with their first description of western life: then the author settled (= si stabilì) near New York, in a small estate (= possedimento) on the Hudson River, named Sunnyside.
In his last years, Irving published an extensive biography of George Washington (1732–1799), which he worked on until his death. 
Together with Fennimore Cooper, Washington Irving  left behind a series of characters and description which paved the way to (= fecero la strada) American Literature.