Sunday, October 19, 2014

Edgar Allan Poe

All About Edgar (Classics)

Edgar Allan Poe is an American icon in literature. He’s known as the “America’s Shakespeare” or “The Master of Macabre” for his genius in poetry and spinning tales of suspense and horror. Most notably recognizable works include “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and the poem “The Raven” among others.

Poe was born on January 19, 1809, the second of three children.  Sadly, within three years of his birth, both of his parents died, and Poe was sent to live with a tobacco merchant while his older brother and younger sister were
sent to live with other family members.  The Allans took Edgar in as one of their own.  They even sent him to college, sort of.  Poe attended the University of Virginia with less than one-third of the funds he needed.  Soon he was hitting the gambling tables in an attempt to pay his debts—just like Justin Timberlake in the movie Runner, Runner.  Unlike Justin, he didn’t turn to the drug trade to support his educational habits.  Instead, he published his first book, Tamerlane (which plays a significant role in the recently published novel The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry).  Tamerlane, unfortunately, did not enjoy a mass following like Fifty Shades of Grey, most likely because there wasn’t an Internet yet to spread the word.  Time for Plan B.  Though Mr. Allan skimped on tuition funds, he pulled some strings and got Edgar into the United States Military Academy at West Point.  Poe lasted eight months.  This added another wedge between foster father and unruly Poe.   In fact, Allan resented him to the end, leaving Poe out of his will.

Poe continued publishing his short stories and eventually landed a sweet gig as an editor for the Southern Literary Messenger. Career and personal life both took an upturn and he married his cousin, Virginia.  While his reputation grew, his wallet did not. Finally, in 1845 he struck gold with the publication of his poem “The Raven.” The publicity allowed him to draw larger crowds to lectures and obtain more money for his stories.

Nothing lasts forever, however, and the good times stopped when Virginia died of tuberculosis in 1847. Poe was heartbroken.  He couldn’t write for a long time.  Two years later, Poe died under mysterious circumstances at the age of forty.

Poe was originally buried in an unmarked grave in Westminster Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland.  A marker was later erected.  Eventually his body was moved to a more prominent spot in the same cemetery, where his
wife Virginia, and his mother-in-law Maria (who was also his aunt) were laid to rest with him. Starting in 1949 an unknown person left three red roses and a glass of cognac on Poe’s grave every January 19th. This mysterious stranger was known as the “Poe Toaster.” The year 2009 was the last time Poe Toaster paid homage to Edgar—then nevermore.

Need mo’ Poe? Plan your trip to the Museum of Edgar Allan Poe in Richmond, Virginia. – A site dedicated to Poe and his writings.

Here Are Three of My Favorite Poe Tales:

The Cask of the Amontillado – A man seeks revenge on a friend in a wine cellar.  

The Oval Portrait – A man learns the truth behind an intriguing painting of a young woman.

The Fall of the House of Usher  - A man visits an old friend who is caring for his gravely ill twin sister.

How much do you know about Poe?

  1.    Edgar Allan Poe was born in:
a.    Scotland
b.    Massachusetts
c.    Ireland

  2.    How old was Poe’s cousin, Virginia Clemm, at the time of their wedding?
a.    17
b.    13
c.    37

  3.    Which actor starred in numerous films based on Edgar Allan Poe’s writing?
a.    Bela Lugosi
b.    Boris Karloff
c.    Vincent Price

  4.    Which of these is not written by Edgar Allan Poe?
a.    The Tell-Tale Heart
b.    Hop-Frog
c.    The Monkey’s Paw

  5.    What was the name of Roderick’s twin sister in The Fall of the House of Usher?
a.    Madeline
b.    Annabel
c.    Eleonora

  6.    Edgar Allan Poe died of:
a.    Dysentery
b.    Alcoholism
c.    Opium overdose

The answers can be found in the “Quiz Answers” top tab of my blog.

Happy Reading,   

What’s your favorite Poe story? Post a comment or email:

1 comment:

  1. I love all the research and time you put into each blog. Thank you for the fascinating information and I really have fun with the quizzes. Not that I'm exceptionally good at them but they are awesome!!