The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon


The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. is a collection of essays, sketches and tales by Washington Irving (1783-1859), generally considered one of the first American writers to achieve international recognition. Charles Dickens knew the book well: as he confided to Irving in 1841, it had been ‘second nature’ to him ever since he had pored over it with such delight as a child.

Readers on both sides of the Atlantic especially liked the Christmas sketches in which the solitary Crayon is invited to join the traditional old English celebrations at Bracebridge Hall. Beginning with a crowded stagecoach journey through the frozen countryside, Irving lovingly describes the family gathering in the gleaming candlelit parlour, the feasting and drinking, and the traditional songs, dances and games which the whole household enjoys together before settling down to tell ghost stories round the fire. This deliberately nostalgic picture helped spark a renewed interest in the festival of Christmas, and over fifteen years later was an obvious source of inspiration for the Christmas scenes in Dickens's Pickwick Papers.

Full title:
The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.
1820, London
Irving Washington
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

Full catalogue details

Related articles

The origins of A Christmas Carol

Article by:
John Sutherland
Poverty and the working classes, The novel 1832–1880, London

Professor John Sutherland considers how Dickens’s A Christmas Carol engages with Victorian attitudes towards poverty, labour and the Christmas spirit.

Victorian Christmas

Article by:
Judith Flanders
The middle classes, Popular culture

Judith Flanders describes how many of our own Christmas traditions – from trees and crackers to cards and carols – have their origins in 19th-century industrial and commercial interests.

Related collection items

Related works

A Christmas Carol

Created by: Charles Dickens

A Christmas book by Charles Dickens (1812–1870), published in 1843. Dickens was prompted to write this ...