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Books - "Legend of Sleepy Hollow"-"The Headless Horseman"
CDs, DVDs, VHSs, Music - "The Headless Horseman"
Gifts - "Legend of Sleepy Hollow"-"The Headless Horseman"
Online links to information about "The Headless Horseman"
SOS: Searching Out Stories/Info - "The Headless Horseman"
~~Advice/References - Storytellers, Teachers, Librarians

Note: “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” first appeared in Washington Irving’s collection of stories, The Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent (Oxford World's Classics), Gent., published in 1819. The text and illustrations used in this ebook are from the revised edition of the Sketch Book, published in 1863.




Book titles are in blue and underlined. Click on them to find out more about the books and how to buy them.
To retell these stories, get permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
In performance, always credit your sources.
Alphabetized for your convenience with short descriptions to save you research time.

Headless Horseman (The) (Step-Into-Reading, Step 3) by Natalie Standiford. (1992 - Ages 4-8)
When the vain, pompous Ichabod Crane tries to steal away Brom Bones's true love, Bones maneuvers a meeting between his rival and the legendary Headless Horseman. "Nice, shadowy, colored-pencil drawings that are dark as well as humorous and expressive, complement the text."--School Library Journal.

Headless Horseman Rides Tonight (The): More Poems to Trouble Your Sleep by Jack Prelutsky with Arnold Lobe (illus). (1992 - Ages 9-12)
"In a companion volume to Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep, poet and artist again collaborate to elicit feelings of exquisite terror."--Horn Book. "Prelutsky's rhymes are as lethal, lithe, and literate as ever, and Lobel wrings every atmospheric ounce out of them."--School Library Journal.

Legend of Sleepy Hollow (The) by Washington Irving with Gris Grimly (illus). (2007 - Ages 4-8)
Is there a parent in the house? Are the windows shut and locked? Double-check! They HAVE to be if you are going to read this book. While you may have heard of Ichabod Crane, Katrina Van Tassel, and the Headless Horseman, you've never SEEN them quite like this -- through the macabre imagination of the inimitable Gris Grimly. So, take a deep breath and take a long look. And you may want to bring a flashlight to bed with you tonight....

Legend of Sleepy Hollow (The). Published by MobileReference (mobi) by Washington Irving. (2008 - Kindle edition)
A short story by Washington Irving contained in his collection The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., written while he was living in Birmingham, England, and first published in 1820. With Irving's companion piece "Rip Van Winkle", "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is among the earliest examples of American fiction still read today.

Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent (The) (Oxford World's Classics) by Washington Irving with Susan Manning (editor). (1998)
Irving explores the uneasy relationship of an American writer to English literary traditions. In two sketches, he experiments with tales transplanted from Europe, thereby creating the first classic American short stories, "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Based on Irving's final revision of his most popular work, this new edition includes comprehensive explanatory notes of The Sketch-Book's sources for the modern reader.

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CD, DVD, VHS, Music links to these items are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more information.
Short descriptions included for your convenience and to save you research time.

Famous Ghost Stories! - With Scary Sounds - Lp (Halloween, Spooky Gothic Tales) Tell Tale Heart, Headless Horseman, the Ghost Ship, Etc., Ten Stories! by Edgar Allan Poe, Washington Irving, Oscar Brand, Wade Denning, Charles Dickens, Frank Daniel and Guy de Laumassant (authors)
This is a very rare vinyl LP. Only a couple available.

Headless Horseman, starring Richard Moll and Billy Aaron Brown, directed by Anthony C. Ferrante. (2008 DVD)
Seven college kids take a shortcut on their way to a party and end up in Wormwood – a "lost" town in the middle of nowhere. They find bones and weird decorations lining Main Street. Local Wormwood legend says on All Hallows Eve one hundred years ago, a crazed man tortured youngsters in town and cut off their heads. In retaliation, the townspeople killed him by cutting off his head. He seeks revenge every seven years... and this is year seven.

Legend of Sleepy Hollow (The), by spoken word artist Jonathan Kruk. (2008 release)
Written in 1790, Irving’s syntax and descriptive narration can be challenging in places, but this oral rendition by Kruk enriches and complements the original version to the point where a “school assignment” could turn into a welcome pleasure. While remaining true to Irving’s original text, Kruk boosts the story’s energy through his highly skilled reading in this audio book.

Scooby Doo: Headless Horseman of Halloween [VHS], starring Casey Kasem and Don Messick. (1996 - VHS)
Viewer: This has to be the BEST Scooby episode ever made. The writing is superb. You feel like you are actually there experiencing the fear along with Shaggy and Scooby. The most amazing part of all is the uncanny resemblance of Ichabod Crane and John. You almost can't tell them apart. If it wasn't for this episode being a cartoon, you wouldn't be able to! They look like twins.

Shelley Duvall's Tall Tales & Legends - The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, starring Ed Begley, Jr. and Beverly D'Angelo. (2005 DVD)
Ed Begley, Jr. stars as Ichabod Crane, the high strung and superstitious new schoolmaster who finds himself competing with a rough country swain named Brom Bones (Tim Thomerson) for the heart of the beautiful Katrina (Beverly D’ Angelo). In a plot orchestrated by Bones, Crane encounters Sleepy Hollow’s most famous resident, the Headless Horseman.

Sleepy Hollow [HD DVD], starring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci, directed by Tim Burton. (2006 DVD)
The film, while occasionally gory (as one should expect from a movie about a headless horseman), is not terribly frightening, although it is suspenseful. Both Depp and Ricci are convincing, and the art direction and production values give the village its harsh feel. Toward the end, once the secrets are revealed, the film does slow down; however, this stylistic horror film provides many tricks and even more treats.

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Gift links are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more information.
Short descriptions included for your convenience and to save you research time.

Headless Horseman Costume (Size: Small child)
Costume includes double knit poly vest with satin sleeves and attached lace ascot. Also includes poly cape and character headpiece and fits sizes 6-8.

Sleepy Hollow Headless Horseman Figure
This figure may be purchased in combination with others at a discounted rate.

Sleepy Hollow 'Headless Horseman' Framed Giclee on Canvas 12" x 15.5"
Headless Horseman limited edition giclee on canvas. This Sleepy Hollow concept art by Disney legend Mary Blair features the iconic Horseman from the classic movie. Edition size is only 149 pieces. Measures 12 inches by 15 1/2 inches. Comes framed with a certificate of authenticity.

Sleepy Hollow, the Headless Horseman
A frightening, spectral nemesis of Sleepy Hollow, director Tim Burton's gothic vision of the Washington Irving classic. Approximately 5 inches tall, this sword-wielding, Headless Horseman figure features multiple articulation at the joints (including innovative new "invisible" knee joints). He comes mounted on his equally detailed steed, an 8-inch black stallion complete with a saddle, stirrup, and reins. Includes gnarled tree and misfortunate skulls.

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Online links are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more information.
Story titles are in quotation marks.
Short descriptions included for your convenience and to save you research time.

Wikipedia examines "The Headless Horseman"

Watch a YouTube video.

Background information and history.

"The Headless Horseman: A Strange Tale of Texas" by Captain Mayne Reid (1866) from Google Books.

"The Headless Horseman" gifts.

Sleepy Hollow, New York: Headless Horseman Bridge from RoadsideAmeerica.com.

Texas Legends: El Muerto - The Headless Horseman from Legends of America.

What is "The Headless Horseman"? from wiseGEEK.

"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving - detailed summery from LitSum.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."

Bio of Washington Irving.

Horror movie synopsis.

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Advice, Discussion and References from Storytellers, Teachers and Librarians
(excerpts from Storytell posts plus original research)

Book titles and online links are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more information.
Story titles are in quotation marks.
Posts are added chronologically as they are received by Story Lovers World.

1) Query: This is my first time using Storytell, so I'm not really sure how it works, but assuming this is being sent to everyone... I'm looking for information about the origins of the Headless Horseman motif in folktales. I am trying to draw parallels between German, Irish, and early Midwestern settler folktales. Obviously I have Washington Irving for a source already, and have some limited sources from Johann Karl August Musaus, but other than that I am kind of stuck. Any help would be very much appreciated. Thanks.
Abbie 10/26/05


If you're collecting variants, here is a good version of the Texas Headless Horseman legend: http://www.legendsofamerica.com/TX-ElMuerto.html
Mary Grace K. 10/27/05

b) There's the Dulachán, variously described as a headless coachman driving a coach or a coach pulled by headless horses. It's said to be occasionally seen in the Tallaght (suburb of Dublin) Hills. A variant name is the Cóiste Bodhar (pron, coash-teh bower), litterally the "deaf coach". An explanation is that about 100 years ago when the "dig-em-ups" -- body-snatchers -- transported their purloined corpses to sell to medical students, they made the coachman carrying the bodies wear a heavy coat pulled over his head to appear headless. They put it about that there was a headless coachman, and anyone who saw him would die. (There are a surprising number of live witnesses -- an unwitting inconsistency in the story.)

"Deaf coach" must be a misunderstanding and mis-back-translation. The Death Coach as an omen of death goes back at least to the early 19th century. The famous County Clare folk tale collector T. J. Westropp tells of an incident on the death of his great-grandfather in 1806, when the Death Coach appeared.

Richard M. Dublin 10/26/05

c) The Headless Horseman rides right through this cove along the Hudson, as noted by Washington Irving in the first American literary hit. Published in 1818, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow still haunts today. Years ago,a long time historic site interpreter at Sunnyside, Irving's homestead, told me the Headless Horseman originated in Bavarian folk lore. Headless riders, apparently patrol the Black Forest. I conducted a search at the Historic Hudson Valley's library, but found little hard evidence. There are clues pointing to German sources of the famed Legend. Irving writes; 0000,0000,6666A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere. Some say that the place was bewitched by a High German doctor, during the early days of the settlement; Of course, it is a Hessian trooper who has lost his head.

I'm readying for my annual Legend of Sleepy Hollow marathon, telling an edited version of the classic at the site of the legend's origins - Philipsburg Manor, right across the street from the Horseman's burial ground at the 1685 old Dutch church. The region is now a part of New York City's dense suburbs, but the cemetary retains a grim lonely character. Thousands of people come to Philipsburg for the halloween program every year. They enjoy my retelling of the Legend, but are struck (sometimes literally) by the pumpkin head hurling headless rider also on hand. Every year a few people report seeing the "real" headless horsemen of Sleepy Hollow. It's my highest honor to perform at "Legend Weekend each year.

The Hudson Valley features several other lesser known headless ghosts. "0000,0000,6666The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in any other part of the country, and the nightmare, with her whole ninefold, seems to make it the favorite scene of her gambols.
Jonathan K. 10/26/05

d) "The Headless Horseman" as retold by S. E. Schlosser
One cold winter night, early in the New Year, a certain Dutchman left the tavern in Tarrytown and started walking to his home in the hollow nearby. His path led next to the old Sleepy Hollow cemetery where a headless Hessian soldier was buried. At midnight, the Dutchman came within site of the graveyard. The weather had warmed up during the week, and the snow was almost gone from the road. It was a dark night with no moon, and the only light came from his lantern.

The Dutchman was nervous about passing the graveyard, remembering the rumors of a galloping ghost that he had heard at the tavern. He stumbled along, humming to himself to keep up his courage. Suddenly, his eye was caught by a light rising from the ground in the cemetery. He stopped, his heart pounding in fear. Before his startled eyes, a white mist burst forth from an unmarked grave and formed into a large horse carrying a headless rider.

The Dutchman let out a terrible scream as the horse leapt toward him at a full gallop....

The rest of the story is at:
Author's Note: This is a retelling of the folktale which was used by Washington Irving to create his masterpiece, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."

e) "The Headless Horseman"
It is 1917, a couple is traveling by covered wagon to the little Texas town of San Diego to visit an elderly relative. Dusk is upon them, so they begin looking for a place to set up camp for the night. Far off in the distance, they spot the flickering light of a campfire. The man turns to his wife and says, "It might be good to camp near some other folks." So he points his wagon toward the distant light.

As they approach the campfire, the light appears to get dimmer and dimmer. By the time they arrive, the fire is nothing more than a few glowing embers. Whoever was there, was now gone, but the campsite is ideal. The couple decides to stay at their present location, just beside a tall oak tree next to the gently sloped banks of a lagoon.

By moonlight, the man starts to gather some wood for a fire. Just as the fire begins to blaze high in the cool night air, a large gray stallion appears, running as fast as the wind. On the horse’s back is a man, a headless man shouting "It is mine. It is all mine."

As quickly as they appeared, the pair disappear off across the lagoon. The flames of the campfire go out, so in total darkness the couple quickly gathers their belongings. Before leaving, the man tears some rags into strips and places them along the branches of the oak tree to mark the spot where this horrifying event had occurred.

The following day, the couple arrives in San Diego. They relate their tale of horror to their uncle, who tells the following story to the weary couple:...

The rest of this story is at:

f) "The concept of the Headless Horseman seems to have been transferred from Europe to America by Washington Irving. The German Legends of the Brothers Grimm (Deutsche Sagen) carries a typical account:....

In the year 1644 a woman from Dresden went out early one Sunday morning to gather acorns in a nearby forest. At a spot on the heath not far from the place called Lost Waters, she heard someone blowing loudly on a hunting horn. This was followed by a heavy falling sound, as though a tree had fallen . . . Soon after, the horn sounded again, and when she turned around she saw a headless man in a long grey coat sitting on a grey horse. He wore boots and spurs and a hunting horn hung behind his back. [4]"

Analytical website:

g) A few words about the history and habits of headless beings -
"The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure on horseback, without a head. It is said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannon-ball, in some nameless battle during the Revolutionary War, and who is ever and anon seen by the country folk hurrying along in the gloom of night, as if on the wings of the wind. His haunts are not confined to the valley, but extend at times to the adjacent roads, and especially to the vicinity of a church at no great distance. Indeed, certain of the most authentic historians of those parts, who have been careful in collecting and collating the floating facts concerning this spectre, allege that the body of the trooper having been buried in the churchyard, the ghost rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head, and that the rushing speed with which he sometimes passes along the Hollow, like a midnight blast, is owing to his being belated, and in a hurry to get back to the churchyard before daybreak.  Such is the general purport of this legendary superstition, which has furnished materials for many a wild story in that region of shadows; and the spectre is known at all the country firesides, by the name of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow." Washington Irving, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"

More at:

h) "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"
Washington Irving's tale of the Headless Horseman has become a Halloween classic, although few Americans celebrated that holiday when the story was new. In this unit, students explore the artistry that helped make Irving our nation's first literary master and ponder the mystery that now haunts every Halloween -- What happened to Ichabod Crane?...

A lesson plan is at:

i) "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving
Ichabod Crane, the schoolmaster in Washington Irving's classic tale, is one of the earliest portrayals of a country schoolmaster in U.S. fiction -- and very possibly the best. The tale captures the essence of the town, its inhabitants, and its comic schoolmaster with skill, insight, and humor.

A pleasing land of drowsy head it was,
Of dreams that wave before the half-shut eye;
And of gay castles in the clouds that pass,
Forever flushing round a summer sky.

Text of the story:

More info also at this site:
* About Sleepy Hollow
* The Headless Horseman legend
* Ichabod Crane is introduced
* Ichabod's schoolhouse and students
* Ichabod in the community
* Ichabod and Katrina

j) Another note on the origins or Washington Irving's headless horseman. Scholars agree, it is derived from Burger's Der Wilde Jager.
Jonathan K. 10/27/06

k) I'll dig up the source of this weekend - or maybe Richard Marsh - will recognize it, but I stumbled on a odd Irish headless horseman tale.

If I remember it correctly, a man wants to ride in a local race, even though he knows his horse really isn't the best. He sets out late, and meets up with the local ghost - a headless spirit on a black stead. The ghost challenges the man to a race, and since the man's a good jockey he manages to win it. The ghost is amused by the whole thing and loans the man his spirit horse for the race.

That's very rough, and while I know which book its in I'm hoping I can find it in the piles.
Cathy M. 10/27/05

l) My new book, Tales with a Texas Twist: Original Stories and Enduring Folklore from the Lone Star State, contains my version of "El Muerto" and 27 other adapted and original stories--including a couple of outright lies.
Donna I. 10/27/05

Reaching readers with Texas tales. . .
Already an award-winning creator of spoken-word stories, Donna Ingham now has a new book out. TALES WITH A TEXAS TWIST is a September 2005 release from the Insider's Guide imprint of the Globe Pequot Press. It is a collection of original stories and enduring folklore from the Lone Star State and is sure to entertain readers of all ages. Each of the 28 stories is complemented by Paul G. Hoffman's inspired pen-and-ink illustrations. From the book's cover: Everything is bigger in Texas. . . including the myths and legends. In this engaging folklore collection, award-winning storyteller Donna Ingham introduces you to the larger-than-life characters who help define the Lone Star State. Meet Pecos Bill, who used a rattlesnake as a rope; Mollie Bailey, a circus pioneer and Civil War spy; Bigfoot Wallace, a retired lawman who called his rifle Sweet Lips; and others whose lives are a fascinating mix of fact and fiction. Ingham also recasts myths from other cultures, giving them the Texas twist that only a native could (did you know that Cupid was a mama's boy?), and shares some of the original tales that earned her the title of Biggest Liar in Austin three years running. TALES WITH A TEXAS TWIST is (or soon will be) available wherever books are sold. Orders can also be placed on the Web at www.GlobePequot.com, by phone at 1-800-243-0495, or by fax at 1-800-820-2329.

Reaching audiences with a variety of programs. . .
Stories educate. Donna Ingham's school and library programs are age appropriate and full of fun as well as facts and folklore. One fourth grade teacher remarked, "Having Donna come tell stories was better than any Texas history review we could have had." Stories also entertain adults. They move us to laughter or tears or simply leave us in a state of quiet reflection. Donna's adaptations of the classic tall tales "Diamond Bill" and "Bigfoot Wallace and the Hickory Nuts" and her original story about "The White Comanche of the Plains" have won national awards (and all three are in her new book), and her "Texas Family Album" CD was named a 2004 honor title for storytelling recordings in the Storytelling World Awards. A popular luncheon and after-dinner speaker as well as a featured performer at storytelling and folklife festivals, Donna was featured in the March 2004 issue of Texas Highways in an article about storytelling in Texas, and she is currently spotlighted in the fall 2005 Elderhostel catalogue as part of the "Year of the Instructor" series. She has produced five audiobooks on tape and CD as well as her new book, TALES WITH A TEXAS TWIST.

Reaching communities with an elder's voice. . .
The history and culture of a family, a region, a state, a nation, a world are preserved through stories. Donna Ingham, shown here on the storytelling stage at the Texas Folklife Festival, takes her responsibility as an "elder" seriously as she passes on the stories that help us discover and understand ourselves and others in the universal themes those stories illustrate.

Created 2005; last update 6/22/09

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