Washington Irving, one of the first Americans to achieve international recognition as an author, was born in New York City in 1783. His A History of New York, published in 1809 under the name of Diedrich Knickerbocker, was a satirical history of New York that spanned the years from 1609 to 1664. Under another pseudonym, Geoffrey Crayon, he wrote The Sketch-book, which included essays about English folk customs, essays about the American Indian, and the two American stories for which he is most renowned--"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle." Irving served as a member of the U.S. legation in Spain from 1826 to 1829 and as minister to Spain from 1842 to 1846. Following his return to the U.S. in 1846, he began work on a five-volume biography of Washington that was published from 1855-1859. Washington Irving died in 1859 in New York.
Alice Hoffman, an American novelist and screenwriter, was born in New York City in 1952. She earned a B.A. from Adelphi University in 1973 and an M.A. from Stanford in 1975 before publishing her first novel, Property Of, in 1977. Known for blending realism and fantasy in her fiction, Hoffman often creates richly detailed characters who live on society's margins and places them in extraordinary situations as she did with At Risk, her 1988 novel about the AIDS crisis. Other novels include The Drowning Season (named a "notable book of 1979" by Library Journal) and Seventh Heaven, which first gained Hoffman a broad national audience. She has also written many screenplays, including adaptations of her own novels.