“Sunnyside” on the Hudson – Tarrytown, NY (circa 1905)

Although Rip Van Winkle and Ichabod Crane may be recognized by contemporary readers, the works of Washington Irving have fallen into relative obscurity when compared to their enormous popularity in the 19th century.

Irving’s published articles and stories attracted a readership in the United States approximating that of the great English story-teller, Charles Dickens.

He was also the first American author to be widely-read in Great Britain.


Most of Irving’s most memorable tales are set in the Hudson Valley and take place at a time when the sturdy Dutch settlers dominated the culture of the towns along the river.


This area was well-known and well-loved by Irving – who built his country house in Tarrytown, an easy journey from New York City where Irving was born and raised.


Irving wrote his whimsical tales from an abundance of bemusement and delight, but also with the recognition that he was witnessing the disappearance of the original Dutch character of the city and the Hudson Valley.

This postcard illustration was made about 1905, when Washington Irving and his “Knickerbocker Tales” were still read by every school student in the US.

Pictured on the postcard is “Sunnyside” which Irving acquired in 1835 – the original parts of the structure were erected in 1650.


Published by the Bryant Union of New York, the postcard appears to have been printed in the United States.

The postcard was not mailed, but given or acquired by Odessa Mendenhall, a prolific collector of postcards.

I have a half-dozen postcards that were once in the collection of Miss Mendenhall of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.

It seems that Odessa preserved her treasured postcards in albums, the marks of the corner brackets are still visible on the reverse.


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