Sunday, November 5, 2017


EDGAR ALLAN POE - Eliza Arnold, an angelic 18 year old widow, married David Poe, Jr. in 1806. She’d been a traveling stage actress since 8 years old, dubbed The Nightingale for her sweet voice. When David saw her perform, he decided to join her traveling troupe. Their first child was born in 9 months and their second, Edgar, was born in 1809. Times were tough for the young family, who relocated to New York City that same summer. David wasn’t doing well, partly because he was an angry drunk with stage fright. But also, because Eliza’s performances were lauded while his own were harshly criticized. He couldn’t handle the criticism, abandoning both the stage and his young family, 6 weeks later. Pregnant Eliza had a third child after he left. When she died in 1811, the children were split up amongst relatives. Edgar Poe was taken in by John Allan but remained forever marked by his mother’s death. In fact the deaths of women--his mother, adopted mother and wives--are recurrent themes in his important stories. His first recognized short story came in 1833, when he won a $50 prize for MS. Found in a Bottle. This success led to editorial work in early periodicals, writing short stories and publishing reviews. He took his literature reviews very seriously, which were usually scathing, earning him more than one enemy. He worked all day and then wrote fiction late into the night, always unstable since he couldn’t keep a job for long. Poe wrote in a range of genres to reach the widest possible audience. His C. Auguste Dupin tales spawned the detective genre including The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Mystery of Marie Roget and The Purloined Letter. He sold The Raven to The American Review for $9 in February 1845 under the pseudonym Quarles. Poe was found delirious in 1849 and taken to the hospital, where he died soon thereafter under circumstances that are mysterious to this day. He was buried after a 3 minute funeral attended by 7 people in a cheap coffin without a nameplate, cloth lining, or head cushion. Poe’s rival Rufus Wilmot Griswold wrote an obituary describing him as a mad, drunken, womanizing opium addict who based his darkest tales on personal experience. Today Poe remains best known for his most popular tales of gothic horror, which are relatively few in his larger body of work. 

1. The Cask of Amontillado
2. The Black Cat
3. The Tell-tale Heart
4. The Masque of the Red Death
5. The Fall of the House of Usher
6. The Pit and the Pendulum
7. The Premature Burial
8. Ligeia
9. Bernice 
10. William Wilson 
11. The Oval Portrait
12. Hop Frog 


  1. I've always been fascinated by him. And have read all his work. I read somewhere that it was speculated that he may have died of rabies. How he might have contracted it I don't know.
    Teresa Reasor

  2. Not read all of his but got into Poe via Conan-Doyle, who spends half his time running him down by Holmes. But it's obvious he drew lots of inspiration from him.

    I must read more of his.

  3. This is very cool. I've actually always been interested in his work. It's nice to have learn more.

  4. I learned about him in high school! I like his stories!

  5. The Cask was a required reading in middle school for me...required reading is typically groan-worthy, but it's still a favorite of mine! Got to love morbid personalities. ;) Thanks for reminding me of some of his stories I still have yet to read...sounds like a great idea for this long winter (I live in Minnesota).

  6. I've always been a huge fan of The tell-tale heart. It was one of the first novels that kinda freaked me out but I loved it! His stories are always edgy but they make you think.