Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sleepy Hollows

I finished writing my book last night! I still have to get permission to use some of the illustrations, but hope to meet my deadline of 10/31 for manuscript submission. While we're on the subject of writing, I thought I would point out that there are 2 Sleepy Hollow cemeteries - both known for the burials of well-known authors.

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts, was dedicated in 1855 by essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), who was later buried there. With him are interred novelist Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888), novelist and short story writer Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau (1817-1872), and approximately 9,997 other people.

Although the acreage in Concord was known as Sleepy Hollow for some 20 years prior to its use as a cemetery, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery near Tarrytown, New York, did not receive its name until 10 years after its incorporation. This was done after the death of Washington Irving (1783-1859), who had made the request in a letter to the editor of Knickerbocker Magazine:

My Dear Clark:

I send you herewith a plan of a rural cemetery projected by some of the worthies of Tarrytown, on the woody hills adjacent to the Sleepy Hollow Church. I have no pecuniary interest in it, yet I hope it may succeed, as it will keep that beautiful and umbrageous neighborhood sacred from the anti-poetical and all-leveling axe. Besides, I trust that I shall one day lay my bones there. The projectors are plain matter-of-fact men, but are already, I believe, aware of the blunder which they have committed in naming it the "Tarrytown," instead of the "Sleepy Hollow" Cemetery. The latter name would have been enough of itself to secure the patronage of all desirous of sleeping quietly in their graves.

I beg you to correct this oversight, should you, as I trust you will, notice this sepulchral enterprise.

I hope as the spring opens you will accompany me in one of my brief visits to Sunnyside, when we will make another trip to Sleepy Hollow, and (thunder and lightning permitting) have a colloquy among the tombs.

Yours, very truly,
Washington Irving
New York, April 27, 1849

Irving (2nd image) was indeed laid to rest at Sleepy Hollow, as were several editors and writers, and dozens of other notables. But none had as direct a connection to the cemetery as Irving, whose story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" - featuring the headless horseman (1st image) - was set in the adjacent Old Dutch Burial Ground.

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