Do you like creepy stories with twists and turns, quirky characters? Reading The Legend of Sleepy Hollow as a young adult, I found it scary enough to stay engrossed. The prose was rich and antiquated taking me back through time. If you don’t quite remember the story, allow me to offer a synopsis.
Sleepy Hollow was a tiny village set in a secluded area in the New York countryside. It had a small population of ordinary people: bullies, victims, flirts, cowards, coquettish women, puffed-up, wealthy men, drinkers, academia, children, etc.
The legend of Sleepy Hollow was born of the superstition and fears that reside in villages such as this. The story tells of a Hessian soldier who lost his head to a cannonball during the American Revolutionary War and now rides his steed through the forest at dark in search of it. Ichabod Crane knows the story and fears it’s true, for he is one to believe in myth and mystery.
Ichabod is a timid schoolteacher who holds his students to high moral standards, but has few morals of his own. He does not hesitate to ingratiate himself in order to prevail upon the kindness of others, seeking out housing from neighbors, a week at a time, to avoid paying for a room.
Good fortune leads him to meet coquettish Katrina Van Tassel, a beauty with a wealthy father. Ichabod becomes enamored of her and her dowry. He courts her and she courts him, in turn. When he proposes marriage at a party held at Katrina’s home, she turns him down because, as it turns out, Katrina was simply trying to make another suitor, the town rowdy, Abraham “Brom Bones” van Brunt jealous.
On Ichabod’s ride home, he encounters the Headless Horseman. Ichabod crosses a bridge near a Dutch cemetery. The Horseman cannot cross the cemetery and Ichabod feels certain he’s safe.
“On mounting a rising ground, which brought the figure of his fellow-traveller in relief against the sky, gigantic in height, and muffled in a cloak, Ichabod was horror-struck on perceiving that he was headless!–but his horror was still more increased on observing that the head, which should have rested on his shoulders, was carried before him on the pommel of his saddle!”
– Washington Irving, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”
The Horseman hurls his ‘head’ at Ichabod and it throws him from his horse. The next day, Ichabod’s hat is found abandoned on the road and near it is a smashed pumpkin. Ichabod Crane is assumed to have been spirited away by the Headless Horseman. Speculative whispers suggest another culprit was accountable for the disappearance of Ichabod Crane. Who might it have been?
Washington Irving crafted a creepy, frightening story that leaves the reader looking over his shoulder at night in the woods and leaving the light on at bedtime.
As writers know, ideas pop into our heads, sometimes without relevance to anything important in our lives. Occasionally, just a name, a trait, a physical feature, a setting, or the weather can transform itself into a full-blown story in our heads.
It’s thought that Ichabod Crane was likely inspired by a real man, named Colonel Ichabod Bennett Crane. He and Washington Irving were acquainted in 1814 at Fort Pike located on Lake Ontario in Sacketts Harbor, New York. Irving was an aide-de-camp to New York Governor Daniel D. Tompkins, who was inspecting defenses in the Sacketts Harbor area on Lake Ontario. Colonel Crane was, at that time, a United States Army captain in command of Company B, 3rd Artillery.
The similarity between the two Ichabods seems to end with the name. Colonel Crane was known to be a highly respected and brave military man with a loving family until the day he died. Although, as you can see from the pictures of Washington Irving, the real Ichabod Crane and the fictional Ichabod Crane, there are slight resemblances.
ATTENTION! I have some exciting news to pass on!
Next Wednesday, August 31st, I will be interviewing talented author, teacher, blogger, Lisa Rivero! Her newest book Oscar’s Gift has been released! The paperback and ebook versions of this historical novel are both now available for purchase on Amazon.com. Please stop by next Wednesday to learn all about Lisa and what she learned in writing this book. See you then!
On the following Wednesday, September 7th, I will be interviewing the amazing Jody Hedlund, author of The Preacher’s Bride and, her newest release, The Doctor’s Lady! Both books are historical fiction, but the bigger focus is on the relationships in the stories. These are the type of books that you can’t put down, nor can you forget the characters. Jody’ books are also available on Amazon.com, print or ebook. See you on the 7th!
Be sure to mark your calender for Thursday, September 15th, to read my interview with Kim Wright, author of Walt Disney World with Kids, Love in Mid-Air, and her newest book, Your Path to Publication. Kim has been writing for more than 20 years and surely knows all the highs and lows of the business. This book is not a repeat of all the publishing information you’re reading in blogs today. Kim talks about conferences, contracts and professional envy. She leads you through the process avoiding the pitfalls. Please join us on September 15th to learn more about Kim and her book!