The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, by Washington Irving, is the perfect story for an autumn day! I’d never read it before, just watched the animated Disney version of the story, so I’m so glad I finally read it! (I liked it better than the movie!)

There’s so much more to the story than the movie, but the plot line is essentially the same. What I missed by only seeing the movie was Washington Irving’s beautiful descriptions of the Sleepy Hollow area of New York State, and his humorous insights into human nature and village life.

Not far from this village, perhaps about two miles, there is a little valley, or rather lap of land, among high hills, which is one of the quietest places in the whole world. A small brook glides through it, with just murmur enough to lull one to repose; and the occasional whistle of a quail or tapping of a woodpecker is almost the only sound that ever breaks in upon the uniform tranquillity.


The story was published in 1820 and is still a favorite “Halloween” read. It is an early thriller and plays on the local legends and scary stories of a phantom, a Hessian soldier’s ghost, who rode around the woods at night without his head which had been blown off in war.

The main characters are Ichabod Crane, Katrina Van Tassel, and Brom Van Brunt (nicknamed Brom Bones by the villagers).

Ichabod Crane was the local schoolmaster. He “was tall, but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, feet that might have served for shovels, and his whole frame most loosely hung together. His head was small, and flat at top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and a long snipe nose, so that it looked like a weathercock, perched upon his spindle neck, to tell which way the wind blew. To see him striding along the profile of a hill on a windy day, with his clothes bagging and fluttering about him, one might have mistaken him for the genius of famine descending upon the earth, or some scarecrow eloped from a cornfield.

Brom Bones was the local bully. “Brom Bones and his gang!’ The neighbours looked upon him with a mixture of awe, admiration, and good will; and when any madcap prank or rustic brawl occurred in the vicinity, always shook their heads and warranted Brom Bones was at the bottom of it.

Katrina Van Tassel, was “the daughter and only child of a substantial Dutch farmer. She was a blooming lass of fresh eighteen, plump as a partridge, ripe and melting and rosycheeked as one of her father’s peaches, and universally famed, not merely for her beauty, but her vast expectations.

Both men, of course, were smitten with her, but only one of them would be able to win her favors. The rivalry of Ichabod and Brom plays out in a terrifying way in the woods surrounding Sleepy Hollow.

This was such a fun read for my Readers Imbibing Peril – XVI challenge! It would be fun to read aloud in while sitting around a campfire at night, or in front of the fireplace on a stormy Halloween night.



It is also a wonderful old classic story that I read for my 50 books in 5 years with The Classics Club.



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