"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is a short story by Washington Irving contained in his collection The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.
It tells the story of Ichabod Crane, who is a lean, lanky, and extremely superstitious schoolmaster from Connecticut, who competes with Abraham "Brom Bones" Van Brunt, the town rowdy, for the hand of 18-year-old Katrina Van Tassel, the daughter and sole child of a wealthy farmer, Baltus Van Tassel. As Crane leaves a party he attended at the Van Tassel home on an autumn night, he is pursued by the Headless Horseman, who is supposedly the ghost of a Hessian trooper who had his head shot off by a stray cannonball during "some nameless battle" of the American Revolutionary War, and who "rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head".
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was based on a German folktale set in the Dutch culture of Post-Revolutionary War in New York State.
The character of Katrina is thought to have been based upon Eleanor Van Tassel Brush, in which case her name is derived from that of Eleanor's aunt Catriena Ecker Van Texel.
He may have patterned the character in "The Legend" after Jesse Merwin, who taught at the local schoolhouse in Kinderhook, further north along the Hudson River, where Irving spent several months in 1809. The story was the longest one published as part of The Sketch Book, which Irving issued using the pseudonym "Geoffrey Crayon" in 1820. "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" follows a tradition of folk tales and poems involving a supernatural wild chase, including Robert Burns's Tam O' Shanter (1790), and Bürger's Der wilde Jäger, translated as The Wild Huntsman (1796).
"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" can be purchased at Barnes & Noble online today for those who would like to take a look at it!