By far our favorite Irving site, though, is his former home—now open to the public—“Sunnyside,” in Tarrytown, New York, alongside the Hudson River. We’ve visited quite a few times—certainly because of our interest in Irving, the first internationally popular American writer, but also because it’s not all that far (about a hundred miles) from western Massachusetts where my mom has been living in retirement and where my two brothers have an old farmhouse they use for a weekend/holiday home. So we can stop either on the way east, on the way home. Or both.
Irving bought the property in June 1835 (added more land later) and gradually modified the house so that it became what you can see today. When you tour, by the way, the docent will tell you that you will experience no electric lighting in the rooms you’ll see. Outside the west windows you can see the Hudson River—very close—as well as the rail line that dates back to Irving’s time. He was annoyed when it first arrived to disturb his bucolic retreat—but later he modified his opinion: He could get to New York City and back (about thirty miles) in a wee fraction of the time it had once required.
June 1835 was about a decade after the events I’ll deal with next—the direct relationship between Irving and Mary Shelley.