Historical Context in The Devil and Tom Walker
“The Devil and Tom Walker” takes place in New England in 1727 and was published in 1824. Irving draws on events from New England’s history, such the Salem Witch Trials and relationships with the Native American Tribes, in order to give his story a recognizable period setting. Since New England was the largest American colony and a center for Puritanism, the setting makes the story uniquely American. Irving’s accurate description of New England is more impressive because he composed the story while abroad in Germany, the country where he became fascinated with the legend of Faust upon which this story is based.