The short story.

Publication year: 1820
Format: audio
Narrator: Tom Mison
Running Time: 1 hrs 16 mins

I’ve seen the movie starring Johnny Depp and the first season of the TV show, and enjoyed both, so it was high time to read (or listen) the original. The audio book is narrated by Tom Mison, a British actor who plays the part of Ichabod Crane in the TV show Sleepy Hollow. The story is available for free in several places on-line, for example:

The story is written in the style of the times, which might make it a bit difficult for a modern reader. Also, the story has a clear narrator who reminisces about his time in the town and interjects his own opinions to the story but we never find out who the narrator is.

Ichabod Crane is a school master and a music teacher in a small town called Tarry Town or Greensburgh but the valley itself is known as Sleepy Hollow because of its haunting atmosphere and several ghost stories related to it. The people also seem to walk around ”in reverie”.

Ichabod is tall and lanky and quite poor. However, the townspeople like him because he always helps out on the farm he’s staying and has a lovely singing voice. He’s also considered to be very educated because he’s read several books. But by today’s standard he would be considered superstitious because he believes in ghosts and magic.

One day he sees Katrina van Tassel who is the only daughter of a wealthy Dutch farmer. She’s only 18 years old and ”plump as a partridge; ripe and melting and rosy cheeked as one of her father’s peaches” and because of her beauty and her father’s wealth, Crane starts to woo her. However, Katrina has another suitor: Brom van Brunt also called Brom Bones. He’s the leader of a local gang of rascals, an excellent horseman, and very strong. Apparently, Katrina’s father doesn’t favor either suitor but Brom’s lads starts making all sorts of mischief on poor Ichabod.

The story is told in a haunting way, but the Headless Horseman himself enters the story quite late (if at all). Irving also uses irony to exaggerate things, just as the characters’ appearances and Icabod’s lust for food and other things he will get by marrying Katrina. But Katrina is also described as a coquette who plays with the affections of men. Greed seems to be the central theme of the story. Also, while there’s no actual violence in the story, Ichabod’s suit and the rivalry between him and Bram Bones is described with knightly terms.

The story is quite different from either the movie or the show.