He was born in New York City.
A lawyer, he served as American ambassador to Britain and later to Spain. He spoke Spanish. He was a prolific essayist who wrote widely respected biographies of George Washington and Muhammad as well as other historical figures. He also wrote books on 15th Century Spain dealing with subjects such as Columbus, the Moors, and the Alhambra.
It is believed that the city of Irving, Texas was named after him.
In 1819-1820 he published The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, which included his best known stories:Birmingham, England - a place which also inspired some of his other works. Bracebridge Hall, or, The Humorists, A Medley is based on Aston Hall, there.
The name "Rip van Winkle" has gone into the language to describe people who awake and cannot recognize their surroundings.
Washington Irving's grave, in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery of Sleepy Hollow, New York. It's the one with the flag in front of it.