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Capturing Mystery in Art and Writing

Washington Irving's tale of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was written in the 19th century, and the language is more formal than we are used to yet the tale of the "headless horseman" chasing Ichabod Crane on an autumn night is captivating. Great-grandson of Grandma Moses, Will Moses, wrote a revised version that is true to the original and includes his own paintings for children to enjoy. It's the Moses version of Irving's tale I read to my students as a read aloud on cold October days, and his colorful pictures full of rich landscapes showed

how the towns and people used to be. Revised version (W. Morris) was published in 1995 by Philomel Books.


I am including a Will Morris illustration of the "headless horseman," and Arthur Rackham's illustration of the "headless horseman." Mr. Rackham was one of the earlier illustrators of this story, back in the 19th century.


Two versions of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" sit in my library. One is the original text reprinted and illustrated by Rackham that I purchased in the museum gift shop at Sunnyside, the home of the author Washington Irving. The second version is the revised text written and illustrated by Will Moses who did give Washington Irving credit for the being the originator of the story. Both are great for different reasons. This is a great time of year to break open this story.


Illustrator Arthur Rackham has thrown in a Hessian soldier, or so it seems, who is part of the legend of these ghosts that haunt the hills of Sleepy Hollow. If you were a student in the 1960s or 1970s you know what Hessian soldier is. I'm not sure students of today would know. His illustration has quite the motion and emotion of upset and fear.



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