He invented the modern short story and the genre of detective fiction tales which led to Sherlock Holmes, he wrote science fiction and works about alchemy and cryptographic systems, he told macabre stories of horror and terror, he is one of the greatest icons in my personal universe and today we have the honour to celebrate his 200th birthday…
Eddie, the great
Edgar Allan Poe
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Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing,
doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.
Although he saw himself as primarily a poet, Poe’s gothic tales of the grotesque and dark side of life have also been the subject of immense critical scrutiny; some critics have claimed him as the originator of the detective story, others as an early forerunner of the science fiction genre. However the critics divide, one undisputed fact is that Poe is a master storyteller.
Edgar Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in January 1809, the second son of travelling actors. There is no record of his father after 1810 and his mother died a year later from tuberculosis. Edgar, split up from his elder brother and younger sister, was taken into the household of a Virginian tobacco merchant, John Allan, whose name Poe adopted from 1824 onwards. He went to England with the Allan family in 1845 and while there attended a school in Stoke Newington. Poe’s relationship with his foster father, uneasy at the best of times, was put under great strain when they returned to Richmond, Virginia, and in 1826 Allan refused to support Poe financially at Virginia University. Poe resorted to gambling in an attempt to try and support himself, but was forced to leave college. After a violent quarrel with his foster father over his choice of career, Poe left Virginia altogether and went to Boston. While there he published ‘Tamerline and other poems’ anonymously and at his own expense, but it was not well received. In 1827 Poe entered the US army under an assumed name and was posted to Sullivan Island; his time there gave him material for later stories such as ‘The Gold Bug’.
Poe was always very close to Mrs. Allan and it was her dying wish that her husband and foster son be reconciled. For a brief time this worked and Poe entered the military academy at West Point in 1830, living on a small allowance from Allan. The truce did not last long and Poe deliberately got himself dishonourably discharged in 1831. He then lived with his aunt, Mrs. Clemms, in Baltimore, where he began to publish stories in magazines. When ‘MS. Found in a Bottle’ won a short-story competition one of the judges helped secure him a job as an editor on the Southern Literacy Messenger. During his time with the periodical he did much to increase its readership, but was later sacked because of his excessive drinking.
In 1836 he married his thirteen-year-old cousin Virginia Clemms. Much of his early work went unnoticed and it took until 1840 before Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque was published in 2 volumes. This included the famous story ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’. Plans for starting his own magazine did not lead to much and he continued to work as a magazine editor for various publications. His ‘Tales’ and ‘The Raven and Other Poems’, published in 1845 did bring him some recognition but unfortunately it was not enough to sustain his family financially. Mrs Clemms and Virginia nearly starved to death one winter. After his wife’s death in 1847 Poe became increasingly unstable and his dependence on drink and drugs increased. Depressed and erratic he attempted suicide in 1848 and tragically died in 1849, five days after being found in a delirious and semi-conscious condition in Baltimore.
His reputation as a writer has grown steadily since his death and he has been admired by the likes of R.L. Stevenson, H.P. Lovecraft, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Charles Baudelaire. [Source]
Edgar Allan Poe was seriously struggling. He had quietly published a few books of poetry (one credited simply to “a Bostonian”) which no one read, he was broke, his young wife had recently died and his creative writing prospects didn’t look too good. To make ends meet Poe was working as a literary critic, moving back and forth between Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City and making literary enemies all along the way. He was also drinking… a lot. He did however have a new poem. He called it “The Raven.”
It almost didn’t get published. It was rejected from the first journal he submitted it to, but Poe hit gold with the Evening Mirror. Edited by Poe’s friend Nathaniel Parker Willis, who had often encouraged Poe to “be less destructive in his criticism and concentrate on his poetry” the paper published an advance copy of the poem with the glowing recommendation that it was “unsurpassed in English poetry for subtle conception, masterly ingenuity of versification… It will stick to the memory of everybody who reads it.” Willis was right, and within a few months the poem was published in numerous journals, and was a high society sensation. Poe had had his big break. [Source]
For over 50 years since 1949, on the night marking the anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s birth, a mysterious man-in-black has entered the cemetery where the master of the macabre lies buried, and, making his way through the dark shadows to Poe’s grave, he places a partial bottle of expensive French cognac and three blood-red roses there, presumably as tokens of admiration and in tribute to the great author. This ritual completed, he then slips away into the night as quietly and as mysteriously as he came. The identity of this dark stranger (dubbed the "Poe Toaster" by observers) has never been revealed. And out of respect to the memory and legacy of Poe, and with a desire to preserve the sanctity of the performance of the ritual, no attempt has ever been made to stop or hinder this enigmatic admirer. [Source]
is the world’s first feature film on the life of mystery and horror writer Edgar Allan Poe. Hollywood has produced over 30 feature films on his works, but not one on his fascinating life. Poe was raised as a backstage theater baby, and his early days in England, and afterwards, on the docks of Richmond, were fertile creative ground that spawned one of the most unique imaginations in history. You can watch the film for free only today!