Public Domain Super Heroes

Rip Van Winkle (C. S. Van Winkle)

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Rip van Winkle
Jefferson as Rip Van Winkle 1871

Real name

Rip van Winkle

First appearance

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., no. 1 (1819)

Original publisher

C. S. Van Winkle


Washington Irving


Rip Van Winkle is a Dutch‐American living in a pleasant village at the foot of New York’s Catskill Mountains around the time of the American Revolutionary War. He enjoys solitary activities in the wilderness but is also loved by all in town—especially the children to whom he tells stories and gives toys. However, he tends to shirk hard work, to his nagging wife’s dismay, which has caused his home and farm to fall into disarray.

One autumn day, to escape his wife’s nagging, Van Winkle wanders up the mountains with his dog Wolf. Hearing his name called out, Rip sees a man wearing antiquated Dutch clothing who is carrying a keg up the mountain and requires help. Together, they proceed to a hollow in which Rip discovers the source of thunderous noises: a group of ornately dressed, silent, bearded men who are playing nine‐pins. Rip does not ask who they are or how they know his name. Instead, he begins to drink some of their moonshine and soon falls asleep.

He awakes to discover shocking changes. His musket is rotting and rusty, his beard is a foot long, and his dog is nowhere to be found. Van Winkle returns to his village where he recognizes no one. He discovers that his wife has died and that his close friends have fallen in a war or moved away. He gets into trouble when he proclaims himself a loyal subject of King George III, not aware that the American Revolution has taken place. Rip Van Winkle is also disturbed to find another man called Rip Van Winkle. It is his son, now grown up.

Rip Van Winkle learns that the men he met in the mountains are rumored to be the ghosts of Henry Hudson’s crew, which had vanished long ago. Rip learns he has been away from the village for at least twenty years. However, an old resident recognizes him and Rip’s grown daughter takes him in. He resumes his usual idleness, and his strange tale is solemnly taken to heart by the Dutch settlers.

Public domain literary appearances

  • Rip Van Winkle,” in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., no. 1, by Washington Irving, 1819. (HathiTrust)
  • Rip van Winkle;or, The Demons of the Catskill Mountains!!!:A National Drama, in Two Acts, by John Kerr, 1825. (HathiTrust)
  • Rip Van Winkle (play), anonymous, 1828.
  • Rip Van Winkle, a Legend of the Catskills: A Romantic Drama, in Two Acts, by Charles Burke, 1850. (Internet Archive) (HathiTrust)
  • Rip Van Winkle: An Original, American, Comic Opera, in Three Acts, libretto by J. H. Wainwright, music by George Frederick Bristow (op. 22), 1855. (HathiTrust) (Internet Archive)
  • Rip Van Winkle (play), by Joseph Jefferson and Dion Boucicault, 1865. (Internet Archive)
  • Rip Van Winkle and His Wonderful Nap, by Edmund Clarence Stedman, 1870. (Internet Archive)
  • A Young Rip Van Winkle:An Original Burlesque, by Robert Reece, 1876. (HathiTrust)
  • “Rip Van Winkle: A Sun Myth,” by Augustus Radcliffe Grote, The Evolution: A Review of Politics, Religion, Science, Literature and Art.
    • First installment, vol. 1, no. 9, May 1877. (HathiTrust)
    • Conclusion, vol. 1, no. 10, June 1877. (HathiTrust)
    • Revised and reprinted in Rip Van Winkle: A Sun Myth and Other Poems, 1882. (HathiTrust)
  • Rip Van Winkle (comic opera), by Robert Planquette, libretto by Henri Meilhac, 1880, English libretto by Henry Brougham Farnie, 1882. (Internet Archive)
  • “Rip Van Winkle,” in Children’s Stories That Never Grow Old: A Selection of the Best Children’s Classics, adapted by Mary Stone, 1908. (HathiTrust)
  • When Santa Claus Went to the Front, by Ethel E. Reed and Martha G. Kendall, 1918. (Internet Archive)
  • Rip Van Winkle: Folk‐Opera in Three Acts, libretto by Percy MacKaye, music by Reginald De Koven (op. 414), 1919. (Internet Archive) (Internet Archive)
  • “An Australian Rip Van Winkle,” in An Australian Rip Van Winkle and Other Pieces, Being a Sketch‐Book After the Style of Washington Irving, by William Hay, 1921. A derivative character, Jake the stockman. (Internet Archive)
  • Rip Van Winkle’s Dream, by Jeannette Michael Haien, 1947. In the public domain from failure to renew copyright. (HathiTrust)

Public domain movie appearances

  • Rip Van Winkle, William Kennedy Dickson, American Mutoscope and Biograph Co., 1903.
  • Rip’s Dream, Georges Méliès, 1905.
  • Rip Van Winkle, probably by Lloyd Lonergan, unknown director, Motion Picture Distributing & Sales Co., 1910.
  • Rip Van Winkle, dir. W. J. Lincoln, prod. William Gibson, Millard Johnson, John Tait and Nevin Tait, Tait’s Pictures, 1912.
  • Rip Van Winkle, by Edward Ludwig and Agnes Parsons, dir. Edward Ludwig, distributed by William Wadsworth Hodkinson, 1921.

Public domain comics appearances

  • World Famous Stories #1, 1945.
  • Hit Comics #52, May 1948.

See also …

Rip Van Winkle (Holyoke character)

External link

Comic Vine

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