Edgar Allen Poe
Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005

Astro-Rayological Interpretation & Charts
Images and Physiognomic Interpretation

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A gentleman with a pug nose is a contradiction in terms.

A strong argument for the religion of Christ is this - that offences against Charity are about the only ones which men on their death-beds can be made - not to understand - but to feel - as crime.

All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.

Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears.

I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it.

I have no faith in human perfectability. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active - not more happy - nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago.

I never can hear a crowd of people singing and gesticulating, all together, at an Italian opera, without fancying myself at Athens, listening to that particular tragedy, by Sophocles, in which he introduces a full chorus of turkeys, who set about bewailing the death of Meleager.

I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.

In criticism I will be bold, and as sternly, absolutely just with friend and foe. From this purpose nothing shall turn me.

In one case out of a hundred a point is excessively discussed because it is obscure; in the ninety-nine remaining it is obscure because it is excessively discussed.

It is by no means an irrational fancy that, in a future existence, we shall look upon what we think our present existence, as a dream.

Man's real life is happy, chiefly because he is ever expecting that it soon will be so.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary.

Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words.

That man is not truly brave who is afraid either to seem or to be, when it suits him, a coward.

That pleasure which is at once the most pure, the most elevating and the most intense, is derived, I maintain, from the contemplation of the beautiful.

The best chess-player in Christendom may be little more than the best player of chess; but proficiency in whist implies capacity for success in all these more important undertakings where mind struggles with mind.

The nose of a mob is its imagination. By this, at any time, it can be quietly led.

The true genius shudders at incompleteness - and usually prefers silence to saying something which is not everything it should be.

There are few cases in which mere popularity should be considered a proper test of merit; but the case of song-writing is, I think, one of the few.

There is something in the unselfish and self-sacrificing love of a brute, which goes directly to the heart of him who has had frequent occasion to test the paltry friendship and gossamer fidelity of mere Man.

Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.

To be thoroughly conversant with a man's heart, is to take our final lesson in the iron-clasped volume of despair.

To vilify a great man is the readiest way in which a little man can himself attain greatness.

We loved with a love that was more than love.

Were I called on to define, very briefly, the term Art, I should call it 'the reproduction of what the Senses perceive in Nature through the veil of the soul.' The mere imitation, however accurate, of what is in Nature, entitles no man to the sacred name of 'Artist.'

With me poetry has not been a purpose, but a passion.


(January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American poet, short story writer, editor and critic and one of the leaders of the American Romantics. He is best known for his tales of the macabre and his poems, as well as being one of the early practitioners of the short story and a progenitor of Gothic fiction in the United States. Poe died at the age of 40, the cause of his death a final mystery.
His legacy is abundant in modern pop culture, from the acclaim of his writing to the naming of the Baltimore Ravens NFL football team.

Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of actress Eliza Poe and actor David Poe, Jr.. His father left before he was born and his mother died when he was only three, so Poe was taken into the home of John Allan, a successful merchant in Richmond, Virginia and baptized . (While his middle name is frequently misspelled as 'Allen', Poe himself used 'Allan' [1].) After attending Manor School, Stoke Newington, London, (UK), Poe moved to Richmond, Virginia, Poe registered at the University of Virginia, but stayed for only one year. He was estranged from his adopted father at some point in this period, and so Poe enlisted in the U.S. Army as a private using the name Edgar A. Perry on May 26, 1827. That same year, he released his first book. After serving for two years and attaining the rank of Sergeant-major, Poe was discharged. In 1829 he published his second book, Al Aaraf. At around this time, he was reconciled with Allan, and through him received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. His time at West Point was ill-fated, as Poe apparently deliberately disobeyed orders and was dismissed. After that, his adoptive father repudiated him forever.
Poe next moved to Baltimore, Maryland with his widowed aunt, Maria Clemm, and her daughter, Virginia. Poe used fiction writing as a means of supporting himself, and with the December issue of 1835, Poe began editing the Southern Literary Messenger for Thomas W. White in Richmond. This position was held by Poe until January, 1837. During this time, Poe married his young cousin, Virginia Clemm, in Richmond on May 16, 1836.
After spending fifteen fruitless months in New York, Poe moved to Philadelphia. Shortly after he arrived, his novella The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym was published and widely reviewed. In the summer of 1839, he became assistant editor of Burton's Gentleman's Magazine. He published a large number of articles, stories, and reviews, enhancing the reputation as a trenchant critic that he had established at the Southern Literary Messenger. In 1839, the collection Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque was published in two volumes. Though not a financial success, it was a milestone in the history of American literature. Poe left Burton's after about a year and found a position as assistant editor at Graham's Magazine.
Virginia suffered a lung hemorrhage in January 1842. It was the first sign of the tuberculosis that would make her an invalid and eventually take her life. Poe began to drink more heavily under the stress of Virginia's illness. He left Graham's and attempted to find a new position, for a time angling for a government post.He returned to New York, where he worked briefly at the Evening Mirror before becoming editor of the Broadway Journal. There he became involved in a noisy public feud with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. On January 29, 1845, his poem "The Raven" appeared in the Evening Mirror and became a popular sensation.
The Broadway Journal failed in 1846. Poe moved to a cottage in the Bronx. The cottage is on the south east corner of the Grand Concourse and Kingsbridge Road and is open to the public. Virginia died there in 1847. Increasingly unstable after his wife's death, Poe attempted to court the poet Sarah Helen Whitman. Their engagement failed, purportedly because of Poe's drinking and erratic behavior; however there is also strong evidence that Miss Whitman's mother intervened and did much to derail their relationship. According to Poe's own account, he attempted suicide during this period by overdosing on laudanum. He then returned to Richmond and resumed a relationship with a childhood sweetheart, Sarah Elmira Royster, who by that time was a widow.

On October 3, 1849, Poe was found on the streets of Baltimore, delirious and "in great distress, and... in need of immediate assistance," according to the man who found him. He was taken to the Washington College Hospital, where he died early on the morning of October 7. Poe was never coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition, and wearing clothes that were not his own. Some sources say Poe's final words were "It's all over now; write Eddy is no more." (referring to his tombstone). Others say his last words were "Lord, help my poor soul."
The precise cause of Poe's death is disputed.
Dr. J. E. Snodgrass, an acquaintance of Poe's who was among those who saw him in his last days, was convinced that Poe's death was a result of drunkenness, and did a great deal to popularize this interpretation of the events. He was, however, a supporter of the temperance movement who found Poe a useful example in his work; later scholars have shown that his account of Poe's death distorts facts to support his theory.

Dr. John Moran, the physician who attended Poe, stated in his own 1885 account that " did not die under the effect of any intoxicant, nor was the smell of liquor upon his breath or person." This was, however, only one of several sometimes contradictory accounts of Poe's last days he published over the years, so his testimony cannot be considered entirely reliable.
Numerous other theories have been proposed over the years, including several forms of rare brain disease, diabetes, various types of enzyme deficiency, syphilis, the idea that Poe was shanghaied, drugged, and used as a pawn in a ballot-box-stuffing scam during the election that was held on the day he was found, and more recently, rabies[2] (though some consider this unlikely).
In the absence of contemporary documentation (all surviving accounts are either incomplete or published years after the event; even Poe's death certificate, if one was ever made out, has been lost), it is likely that the truth of Poe's death will never be known. No other major American writer in the nineteenth century except Sidney Lanier lived a shorter life span.
Poe is buried on the grounds of Westminster Hall and Burying Ground[3], now part of the University of Maryland School of Law[4] in Baltimore.
Poe's untimely death in Baltimore has made his grave site a popular tourist attraction - since 1949, the grave has been visited every year by a mystery man, known endearingly as the Poe Toaster, in the early hours of Poe's birthday, January 19th. It has been reported that a man draped in black with a silver-tipped cane, kneels at the grave for a toast of Martel cognac and leaves the half-full bottle and three red roses.

"Memoir" - Griswold's biography of
The day was buried, a long obituary appeared in the New York Tribune signed "Ludwig". The piece began, " is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it."[5] This bitter obituary depicted Poe as dishonest, immoral, morbidly ambitious, insane and incapable of normal human feelings. It was reprinted in numerous papers across the country. "Ludwig" was soon identified as Rufus Griswold, a minor editor and anthologist who had borne a grudge against Poe since 1842, when Poe wrote a review of one of Griswold's anthologies, a review that Griswold deemed to be full of false praise. Though they were coolly polite in person, an enmity developed between the two men as they clashed over various matters. Critics see Griswold's obituary as using Poe's death as his way to settle the score.
Griswold went on to assume the role of Poe's literary executor, though no evidence exists that Poe had ever made the choice. He convinced Poe's destitute mother-in-law Maria Clemm to hand over a mass of letters and manuscripts (which were never returned) and allow him to prepare an edition of Poe's collected works. Griswold assured Clemm that she would receive significant royalties, but she received nothing but a few sets of the edition, which she had to sell herself to make any sort of profit.
Rufus Griswold wrote a biographical "Memoir" of Poe, which he included in an additional volume of the collected works. Griswold depicted Poe as a depraved, drunk, drug-addled madman. This biography presented a starkly different version of Poe's biography than any other at the time, and included items now believed to have been forged by Griswold to bolster his case. Griswold's book was denounced by those who knew well; Griswold's account became a popularly accepted one, however, in part because it was the only full biography available and was widely reprinted, and in part because it seemed to accord with the narrative voice Poe used in much of his fiction.
No accurate biography of Poe appeared until John Ingram's of 1875. By then, however, Griswold's depiction of Poe was entrenched in the mind of the public, not only in America but around the world. Griswold's madman image of Poe is still existent in the modern perceptions of the man himself.

In his essay "The Poetic Principle" Poe argued that there is no such thing as a long poem, since the ultimate purpose of art is aesthetic, that is, its purpose is the effect it has on its audience, and this effect can only be maintained for a brief period of time (the time it takes to read a lyric poem, or watch a drama performed, or view a painting, etc.) He argued that an epic, if it has any value at all, must be actually a series of smaller pieces, each geared towards a single effect or sentiment, which "elevates the soul."
Poe associated the aesthetic aspect of art with pure ideality, claiming that the mood or sentiment created by a work of art elevates the soul, and is thus a spiritual experience. In many of his short stories, artistically inclined characters (especially Roderick Usher from "The Fall of the House of Usher") are able to achieve this ideal aesthetic through fixation, and often exhibit obsessive personalities and reclusive tendencies. "The Oval Portrait" also examines fixation, but in this case the object of fixation is itself a work of art.
He championed art for art's sake (before the term itself was coined). He was consequentially an opponent of didacticism, arguing in his literary criticisms that the role of moral or ethical instruction lies outside the realm of poetry and art, which should only focus on the production of a beautiful work of art. He criticized James Russell Lowell in a review for being excessively didactic and moralistic in his writings, and argued often that a poem should be written "for a poem's sake."
He was a proponent and supporter of magazine literature, and felt that short stories, or "tales" as they were called in the early nineteenth century, which were usually considered "vulgar" or "low art" along with the magazines that published them, were legitimate artforms on par with the novel or epic poem. His insistence on the artistic value of the short story was influential in the short story's rise to prominence in later generations.
Legacy and lore
Poe's works have had a broad influence on American and World literature (sometimes even despite those who tried to resist it), and even on the art world beyond literature. Along with Mary Shelley, Poe is regarded as the foremost proponent of the Gothic strain in literary Romanticism. The scope of Poe's impact on art is evident when one sees the many and diverse artists who were directly and profoundly influenced by him.
Death, decay and madness were an obsession for Poe. His curious and often nightmarish work greatly influenced the horror and fantasy genres, and the horror fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft claimed to have been profoundly influenced by Poe's works. He is also credited with originating the genre of detective fiction with his three stories about Auguste Dupin, the most famous of which is "The Murders in the Rue Morgue." There is no doubt that he inspired mystery writers who came after him, particularly Arthur Conan Doyle in his series of stories featuring Sherlock Holmes. Doyle was once quoted as saying, "Each [of Poe's detective stories] is a root from which a whole literature has developed.... Where was the detective story until Poe breathed the breath of life into it?" (Poe Encyclopaedia 103). Poe also profoundly influenced the development of early science fiction author Jules Verne, who discussed Poe in his essay Poe et ses œuvres and also wrote a sequel to Poe's novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket called The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, Le sphinx des glaces (Poe Encyclopaedia 364). H. G. Wells, in discussing the construction of his classics of science fiction, The War of the Worlds and The First Men in the Moon, noted that "Pym tells what a very intelligent mind could imagine about the south polar region a century ago" (Poe Encyclopaedia 372). Ray Bradbury has also professed a love for Poe. He often draws upon Poe in his stories, often mentioning him by name.
Eureka, an essay written in 1848, included a cosmological theory that anticipated the Big Bang theory by eighty years, as well as the first plausible solution to Olbers' paradox. Though described as a "prose poem" by Poe, who wished it to be considered as art, this work is a remarkable scientific and mystical essay unlike any of his other works. He wrote that he considered it his career masterpiece.
Poe had an interest in the field of cryptography. In particular he placed a notice of his abilities in the Philadelphia paper Alexander's Weekly (Express) Messenger, inviting submissions of ciphers, which he proceeded to solve. His success created a public stir for some months. He later wrote an essay on methods of cryptography which proved useful in deciphering the German codes employed during World War I.
Poe's literary reputation was greater abroad than it was in the United States, perhaps as a result of America's general revulsion towards the macabre. Rufus Griswold's defamatory reminiscences did little to commend Poe to U.S. literary society. However, American authors as diverse as Walt Whitman, H. P. Lovecraft, William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor (who, however, claimed the influence of Poe on her works was "something I'd rather not think about" (Poe Encyclopaedia 259)), and Herman Melville were influenced by Poe's works. T. S. Eliot, who was quite hostile to Poe, conceded that "it is impossible, however, to know if even one's own works were not influenced by his."
In France, where he is commonly known as "Edgar Poe," Charles Baudelaire translated his stories and several of the poems into French. Baudelaire was the right man for this job, and his excellent translations meant that Poe enjoyed a vogue among avant-garde writers in France while being ignored in his native land. From France, writers like Algernon Swinburne caught the Poe-bug, and Swinburne's musical verse owes much to Poe's technique. Poe was much admired, also, by the school of Symbolism, and Stéphane Mallarmé dedicated several poems to him. The subsequent authors Paul Valéry and Marcel Proust were great admirers of Poe, the latter saying "Poe sought to arrive at the beautiful through evocation and an elimination of moral motives in his art."
Poe's poetry was translated into Russian by the Symbolist poet Konstantin Bal'mont and enjoyed great popularity there in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, influencing artists such as Nabokov, who makes several references to Poe's work in his most famous novel, Lolita. Fyodor Dostoevsky called Poe "an enormously talented writer" and many of his characters, such as Raskolnikov and Porfiry Petrovich in Crime and Punishment are derived from Poe characters (in this case, Montresor from "The Cask of Amontillado" (this is debatable: Raskolnikov is constantly in doubt and trying to justify his actions to himself, while the chilling effect of Montresor's narration lies precisely in the character's calm certainty of his purpose) and Auguste Dupin from "Murders in the Rue Morgue") (Poe Encyclopaedia 102). He wrote favorable reviews of Poe's detective stories and briefly references "The Raven" in his greatest novel, The Brothers Karamazov. Poe influenced the Swedish poet and author Viktor Rydberg, who translated a considerable amount of Poe's work into Swedish.
A Japanese author even took a pseudonym, Edogawa Rampo, from a rendering of Poe's name in that language.
Franz Kafka once said of Poe, "He was a poor devil who had no defenses against the world. So he fled into drunkenness. Imagination served him only as a crutch. He wrote tales of mystery to make himself at home in the world. That's perfectly natural. Imagination has fewer pitfalls than reality...I know his way of escape and his dreamer's face." Poe made a deep impression on Kafka and the influence of Poe's works on his are undeniable.
Jorge Luis Borges was a great admirer of Poe's works, and translated his stories into Spanish. Many of the characters from Borges' stories are borrowed directly from Poe's stories, and in many of his stories Poe is mentioned by name.
In Thomas Mann's novel Buddenbrooks, a character reads Poe's short novels and professes to be influenced by his works.
In the music world, Joseph Holbrooke, Claude Debussy and Sergei Rachmaninoff composed musical works based on the works of Poe. Holbrooke composed a symphonic poem based on The Raven. Debussy often declared Poe's profound effect on his music (Poe Encyclopedia 93) and began operas based on The Fall of the House of Usher and The Devil in the Belfry, though he did not finish them. Rachmaninoff transformed "The Bells" into a choral symphony. (Three other orchestral works based on Poe, along with the Rachmaninoff, were featured in a concert given by the American Symphony Orchestra in October 1999 [6].) In the world of visual arts, Gustave Doré and Édouard Manet composed several illustrations for Poe's works. On the stage, the great dramatist George Bernard Shaw was greatly influenced by Poe's literary criticism, calling Poe "the greatest journalistic critic of his time" (Poe Encyclopaedia 315). Oscar Wilde called Poe "this marvellous lord of rhythmic expression" and drew on Poe's works for his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray and his short stories (Poe Encyclopedia 375). Alfred Hitchcock declared Poe as one of his inspirations, saying "It's because I liked 's stories so much that I began to make suspense films."
In recent years the poet and critic W. H. Auden has revitalized interest in Poe's works, especially his critical works. Auden said of Poe, "His portraits of abnormal or self-destructive states contributed much to Dostoyevsky, his ratiocinatin hero is the ancestor of Sherlock Holmes and his many successors, his tales of the future lead to H. G. Wells, his adventure stories to Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson." (Poe Encyclopaedia 27).
The Mystery Writers of America have named their awards for excellence in the genre the "Edgars."
Even though Poe spent less than two years in the city, Baltimoreans have treated the author as a native son. Many business establishments have used Poe as a theme for their marketing.
In 1996, when the original Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore, they were rechristened "the Baltimore Ravens", in honor of his best known tale. The team even created three "winged" mascots - naturally they named them Edgar, Allan, and Poe.
Poe's image, with his weary expression, piercing eyes and tangled hair (see the daguerrotype above), has become a cultural icon for the troubled genius. His face adorns the bottlecaps of Raven Beer [7], the covers of numerous books on American literature as a whole, and is often stereotyped in cartoons as "the creepy guy". [8] In 1967, Poe appeared as part of the backdrop crowd of the Beatles' immensely popular album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band.

Poe Chronology
(See also Poe in Baltimore)
• 1806 (March 14) - Traveling stage actors David Poe, Jr. and Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins marry. (A. H. Quinn gives the date as "between March 14 and April 9, 1806, and probably between April 5th and April 9th, in Richmond, " Quinn, p. 24.)
• 1807 (Jan. 30) - William Henry Leonard Poe (usually called Henry) is born to David and Elizabeth Poe in Boston.
• 1809 (Jan. 19) - Edgar Poe is born in Boston. (On the back of a miniature portrait of herself, Elizabeth Poe wrote: "For my little son Edgar, who should ever love Boston, the place of his birth, and where his mother found her best, and most sympathetic friends." A. H. Quinn discusses the location of Poe's birth on pp. 727-729.)
• 1810 (Dec. 20) - Rosalie Poe (often called Rosie or Rose) is born in Norfolk, Virginia. (In a letter from John Allan to Henry Poe, November 1, 1824, Allan makes the odd statement about Rosalie that, "At least She is half your Sister & God forbid my dear Henry that We should visit upon the living the Errors & frailties of the dead," The Poe Log, p. 62. There is, however, no real reason to presume that Rosalie was illegitimate. See also Mabbott, Poems, 1969, pp. 520-521.)
• 1811 (Dec. 8) - Elizabeth Arnold Poe, Edgar's mother, dies in Richmond, Virginia. Her remains are buried at Old St. John's Church in old Richmond. (The exact cause of her death is unknown other than some illness, perhaps pneumonia. Suggestions that she died from tuberculosis are unfounded. The location of her death is discussed in some detail by A. H. Quinn, pp. 732-741.) David Poe, Edgar's father, apparently dies within a few days of his wife. (According to W. F. Gill, this would be Dec. 10.) (The circumstances surrounding David Poe's death, and the reason why he was not with his family at the time, are shrouded in mystery. Around 1890, Mrs. Byrd, the daughter of the Mackenzies, who took in Poe's sister Rosalie, stated, "It is certain that Mr. [David] Poe died in Norfolk; where the company with which they were playing . . . were compelled to leave him on account of illness, while they went on to Richmond. On hearing of his death, one of them returned to Norfolk and brought the whole family to Richmond, intending to take them to their friends in Baltimore, but Mrs. Poe being taken with pneumonia, died . . . " Weiss, "Reminiscences of ," The Independent, August 25, 1904, p. 447. Disagreeing somewhat with Mrs. Byrd is a November 2, 1811 letter from Samuel Mordecia to his sister Rachel: "A singular fashion prevails here this season -- it is -- charity -- Mrs. Poe, who you know is a very handsome woman, happens to be very sick, and (having quarreled and parted with her husband) is destitute" The Poe Log, p. 13. Unfortunately, appeals for money for Mrs. Poe in Richmond newspapers of the time make no mention of David Poe. A notice of a benefit for Mrs. Poe from July 26, 1811 in the Norfolk Herald, however clearly suggests that David Poe was already not with the family: "Left alone, the only support of herself and several small children. . . . Shame on the world that can turn its back on the same person in distress, that it was wont to cherish in prosperity," The Poe Log, p. 11. In all of these cases, David Poe's absence by death or desertion should have elicited much additional sympathy. David Poe was last known to have appeared on stage on October 18, 1809, The Poe Log, p. 8. Mary Phillips confidently quotes from an unidentified newspaper clipping that David Poe died, "at Norfolk, Va., Oct. 19, 1810, " Phillips, Poe the Man, p. 77. A. H. Quinn discusses this clipping on p. 44, n. 85. Quinn also notes that David Poe "apparently did not die in New York," Quinn, p. 40. The legend that either or both of Poe's parents died in the Richmond Theater fire of December 26, 1811 is romantic fiction.)
• 1811 (Dec. 26) - The orphaned Edgar is taken into the home of John and Frances Allan of Richmond. His sister, Rosalie, is taken in by Mr. and Mrs. William Mackenzie, also of Richmond. His brother, Henry, remains in Baltimore with his grandparents. Allan never legally adopts Poe, although Poe calls John Allan "Pa" and Frances Allan "Ma." John and Frances never have children of their own. John Allan has at least one illegitimate child (Edwin Collier). (After Frances's death, John remarried in 1830 and had children through the second Mrs. Allan.)
• 1812 (Jan. 7) - Poe is baptized by the Reverend John Buchanan and christened as "," with the Allans presumably as godparents. Poe's sister Rosalie is baptized on September 3, 1812 as "Rosalie Mackenzie Poe."
• 1814 - Five year old Edgar begins his formal education. His teacher is either Clotilda or Elizabeth Fisher (Mabbott, Poem, p. 533).
• 1815 - Poe briefly moves on to the school of Mr. William Ewing.
• 1815 (June 22) - John and Frances Allan, with Edgar and Frances's younger sister, Ann Moore Valentine (called Nancy), leave for England aboard the Lothair.
• 1816 - Poe goes to the boarding school of the Misses Dubourg (146 Sloan Street, Chelsea, London, The Poe Log, p. 29). Here, Edgar is known as "Master Allan" (Quinn, p. 69). Among the subjects taught are geography, spelling and the Catechism of the Church of England.
• 1818 - Poe attends the Manor House School run by the Reverend John Bransby (Stoke Newington, London). (The description of the school in Poe's "William Wilson" is based, lightly, on his experiences here. Dr. Bransby is mentioned there by name.) Here, Poe is called Edgar Allan (Quinn, p. 71). Among his subjects is dancing. (As Bransby had a reputation as a classical scholar, there is little doubt that classes also taught at least some Latin and perhaps even Greek.)
• 1820 (July 22) - Edgar and his family return to America from England aboard the Martha. Stopping briefly in New York, they continue on to Richmond, Virginia, arriving there on July 27.
• 1821 - Poe attends the school of Joseph H. Clarke.
• 1823 (April?) - Poe attends the school of William Burke.
• 1824 (June or July) - Poe swims six or seven miles up the James River, against a heavy tide. His schoolmaster follows in a boat in case he needs help.
• 1824 (October 26-28) - During his tour of American, General Lafayette visits Richmond, Virginia. The Richmond Junior Volunteers partake in the ceremonies welcoming him. Poe is a lieutenant of the Volunteers.
• 1824 (November ?) - Poe writes a two-line poem: "-- Poetry - Edgar A. Poe -- Last night, with many cares & toils oppres'd, Weary, I laid me on a couch to rest --." (This is Poe's earliest surviving poem. It was never published during his lifetime, nor used as part of a longer poem.)
• 1825 (March) - Poe leaves Burke's school and attends the school of Dr. and Mrs. Ray Thomas.
• 1825 (March 26) - John Allan's uncle William Galt dies in Richmond. John Allan is named in Galt's will and inherits a comfortable fortune.
• 1825 (June 28) - John Allan purchases an enormous brick mansion called "Moldavia" for $14,950 and moves his family there. (Moldavia stood on the southeast corner of Fifth and Main Streets in Richmond until it was torn down sometime around 1890.)
• 1826 (Feb. 14) - enters the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville. (The school, founded by Thomas Jefferson, first opened its doors on March 7, 1825.)
• 1826 (Dec.) - Poe returns to Richmond and finds that his childhood sweetheart, Elmira Royster, is engaged to Alexander B. Shelton. Elmira's parents did not approve of a marriage with Edgar, finding the wealthy business man Shelton more to their liking.
• 1827 (March) - Poe feuds with John Allan over gambling debts of $2,000 Poe incurred at the University of Virginia. Although possibly cheated, Poe's sense of honor insists that the debts must be paid, but Allan refuses to help him. Poe leaves and heads to his family in Baltimore.
• 1827 (May 26) - Poe enlists in the United States Army under the name Edgar A. Perry.
• 1827 - Poe's first book, Tamerlane and Other Poems is published in Boston by Calvin F. S. Thomas. The author is noted only as "A Bostonian." The thin pamphlet sells perhaps 50 copies, many likely distributed free for reviews. (After Poe's death, the existence of this little book, then lost in obscurity, was offered by Griswold as an example of Poe's lying nature. This position was accepted until 1880, when John Ingram found a copy in the library of the British Museum. Today, only twelve copies are known to exist. As much as $172,000 has been paid at auction. Most copies are imperfect.)
• 1827 (Nov.) - Poe's battery arrives at Fort Moultrie, Sullivan's Island, Charleston, South Carolina.
• 1828 (Dec. 15) - Poe's battery arrives at Fort Monroe, Old Point Comfort, Virginia.
• 1829 (Jan. 1) - Poe is promoted to Sergeant-Major of the Regiment of Artillery.
• 1829 (Feb. 28) - Francis Keeling Allan, Poe's doting foster mother, dies in Richmond. She is buried in the Shockoe Hill Cemetery on March 2. Poe obtains leave from the army and arrives in Richmond on the evening of the day following her burial.
• 1829 (April 15) - Poe is released from the Army and applies for an appointment to West Point. (To obtain his release, it was necessary for Poe to provide a substitute at no expense to the government.)
• 1829 (Dec.) - Poe's second book, Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems is published in Baltimore by Hatch and Dunning.
• 1830 (Oct. 5) - John Allan marries Louisa Patterson. (By John Allan's death in 1834, they will have three sons.)
• 1830 (June) - Poe enters West Point.
• 1831 (Jan. 27) - Poe, wishing to get out of West Point, refuses to attend classes or church. He is court-martialed on February 8 and dismissed as of March 6.
• 1831 - Poe's Poems is published in New York by Elam Bliss.
• 1831 (July) - Poe submits several stories to a contest sponsored by the Philadelphia Saturday Courier. He does not win first prize. Five of his stories are published, although without his name.
• 1831 (Aug. 1) - William Henry Leonard Poe, Edgar's older brother, dies in Baltimore, probably of tuberculosis or cholera.
• 1833 (Oct.) - Poe receives his $50 prize for "MS. Found in a Bottle" from the Baltimore Saturday Visiter.
• 1834 (March 27) - John Allan, Poe's foster father, dies in Richmond, Virginia. He is buried next to his first wife, Frances, in the Shockoe Hill Cemetery. Edgar's name is omitted from Allan's will and Poe inherits nothing from the large estate.
• 1836 - Leaving his home in Baltimore, Poe moves to Richmond and becomes editor of Thomas W. White's Southern Literary Messenger. (White was reluctant to grant Poe the title, although quite willing to let him do the work.) Poe writes a great many critical reviews and receives both praise and scorn for these frank commentaries. He prints a number of his own poems and stories, including reprints of several earlier pieces.
• 1836 (May 16) - Edgar (aged 27) and Virginia (aged 13) marry in Richmond, Virginia. The ceremony is officiated by the Reverend Amasa Convers, a Presbyterian minister who was also editor of the Southern Religious Telegraph.
• 1837 (Jan.) - The Southern Literary Messenger announces that Poe has left the position of editor.
• 1837 (Feb.) - Poe and his family move to New York.
• 1838 - Poe and his family move to Philadelphia.
• 1838 (July) - Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym is published in New York by Harper & Brothers.
• 1839 - The Conchologist's First Book is published in Philadelphia by Haswell, Barrington and Haswell. Professor Thomas Wyatt secured Poe's assistance in the book's production. Poe writes the "Preface" and "Introduction," and perhaps provides some translation from Cuvier. The book runs for three editions by 1845, becoming Poe's only commercial success in book form. (Poe's association with this book has brought charges of plagiarism from the conchology textbook by Captain Thomas Brown, published in Glasgow in 1833.)
• 1839 (May) - Poe becomes an editor for wealthy comedian William Evans Burton's two-year old Gentleman's Magazine. (The title page for volume V, beginning with the issue for July of 1839, prominently shows the names of the editors as "William E. Burton and Edgar A. Poe.")
• 1840 - Poe's Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (two volumes) is published in Philadelphia by Lea and Blanchard.
• 1840 (Feb. 10) - Poe's "Journal of Julius Rodman" (Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, Jan. 1840, first of four installments) is mistaken as an actual account of an expedition and is noted in a document submitted to the U. S. Senate.
• 1840 (June 6) - Poe's prospectus for a new magazine appears in the Saturday Evening Post: "Prospectus of the Penn Magazine, a monthly literary journal, to be edited and published in the city of Philadelphia, by Edgar A. Poe -- Since resigning the conduct of The Southern Literary Messenger, at the commencement of its third year, I have constantly held in view the establishment of a Magazine which should retain some of the chief features of that journal, abandoning the rest. . . . It shall be the first and chief purpose of the Magazine now proposed, to become known as one where may be found, at all times, and upon all subjects, an honest and fearless opinion. This is a purpose of which no man need be ashamed. . . .To the mechanical execution of the work the greatest attention will be given which such a matter can require. . . The price will be $5 per annum, payable in advance, or upon receipt of the first number, which will be issued on the first of January, 1841" (The Poe Log, pp. 300-301). (Poe was unable to raise the necessary support and the first issue of the Penn never appeared. By 1841, he was forced to put his plans on hold. The final prospectus for the Penn was printed on January 1, 1841, of which Poe sent a copy to J. E. Snodgrass on January 17, 1841.)
• 1841 (February 20) - The Saturday Evening Post (Philadelphia) announces that Poe has become an editor for Graham's Magazine, beginning with the April issue. (Both the Post and Graham's were owned by George Rex Graham.Volume I of Graham's Magazine appeared as volume XVIII because, in creating his new magazine, Graham merged Burton's Gentleman's Magazine with the Casket. The latter, which Graham had purchased in May of 1839, had already issued seventeen volumes by the end of 1840. The last issue of both the Gentleman's Magazine and the Casket are virtually identical, each bearing the inscription of Graham's Magazine on their title pages, noted "as a specimen of the new volume." Poe's engagement with Graham as an editor may have been discussed as early as December of 1840. This possibility is suggested by the fact that both of these final issues contain Poe's story "The Man of the Crowd." Burton had stopped printing Poe's material as of the August issue of the same year. Poe, however, was still hoping to make real his plans for the Penn Magazine, plans he did not abandon for several months.)
• 1841 (April) - Graham's Magazine features Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue," the first modern detective story. During Poe's tenure, the circulation of Graham's Magazine increases from about 5,000 to nearly 37,000 subscribers, making it far and away the most popular periodical of its day. (An abridged translation of "Murders in the Rue Morgue" appeared on October 12, 1846 in Le Commerce, a Parisan newspaper. There, the title was given as "L'Orange-Otang" but Poe 's name is not mentioned.)
• 1842 (March 6) - During Dickens' tour of America, Poe and Charles Dickens arrange to meet while he is in Philadelphia. (Dickens had been greatly impressed by Poe's ability to guess the ending of his Barnaby Rudge. In the Saturday Evening Post for May for 1841, Poe had reviewed the work, which was being published serially in a magazine a chapter at a time.) Dickens agrees to consider writing for Graham's and to try to find an English publisher for Poe's Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, although nothing of substance will ever come of either promise.
• 1842 (May) - Poe leaves the editorship of Graham's Magazine. He is replaced by Rufus W. Griswold. In a letter to his friend F. W. Thomas, Poe notes, "The report of my having parted with Graham, is correct; although, in the forthcoming June number, there is no announcement to that effect; nor had the papers any authority for the statement made. My duties ceased with the May number. I shall continue to contribute occasionally. . . . My reason for resigning was disgust with the namby-pamby character of the Magazine -- a character which it was impossible to eradicate -- I allude to the contemptible pictures, fashion plates, music and love tales. The salary, moreover, did not pay me for the labor which I was forced to bestow. With Graham, who is really a very gentlemanly, although exceedingly weak man, I had no misunderstanding" (Ostrom, Letters, p. 198). (Although Poe complained about his pay, he would never again attain such a relatively secure financial position.)
• 1843 (January 31) - Poe and Thomas Cottrell Clarke sign an agreement to proceed with Poe's plans for a magazine. The original name, The Penn, was deemed too regional sounding and the new magazine is called The Stylus, which is, of course, a pen. (Again, Poe found it impossible to raise sufficient interest and capital. Although he revisited the effort from time to time until his death, The Stylus never appeared.)
• 1843 (March 4) - A biographical notice of Poe, by Henry Beck Hirst, is printed in the Philadelphia Saturday Courier. Full of erroneous information, presumably provided by Poe, this biography begins to establish Poe's public image.
• 1843 (March) - Through contacts of his friend F. W. Thomas, Poe hopes to gain a government job as a clerk, which will still leave him with time to write. Although one of his supporters is Robert Tyler, the son of President John Tyler, Poe fails to obtain a position.
• 1843 (June) - Poe's tale of pirate treasure, "The Gold-Bug," wins the $100 prize from the Dollar Newspaper (Philadelphia). So successful is the tale that a second printing of the newspaper is required. In additon to the prize, Poe receives substantial national attention. A theatrical production based on Poe's story, dramatized by Silas S. Steele, is performed on August 8, 1843 at the American Theatre in Philadelphia (Mabbott, Tales and Sketches, p. 805). (In November of 1845, a French translation, "Le Scarabee d'or" was printed in the Revue britannique and again in installments in La Democratie pacifique in May of 1848 and in La Journal du Loiret in June of 1848. A pirated English edition appeared in London around 1846.)
• 1843 (July) - Poe's Prose Romances is published in Philadelphia by William H. Graham.
• 1843 (July 19) - Poe registers to study law in the office of Henry Beck Hirst, a long-time friend (Mabbott, Poems, p. 553. The Poe Log disputes this claim, p. 427.)
• 1843 (November 21) - Poe delivers the first of his lectures on American Poetry, beginning in Philadelphia. The large audience overflows the hall and reviews are generally favorable, inspiring Poe to proceed with other performances of the lecture. (Among Poe's later lectures are "The Poets and Poetry of America," "The Poetic Principle" and "The Universe." The last of these became the basis for his 1848 book Eureka.)
• 1844 (April 7) - Poe and his family move to New York, where Poe may have joined the Sunday Times as a subeditor.
• 1844 (October 7) - Poe is engaged by George Pope Morris and Nathaniel Parker Willis as part of the staff of the Evening Mirror (New York). (In 1849, N. P. Willis recalled, "Mr. Poe was employed by us, for several months, as critic and subeditor. This was our first personal acquaintance with him. He resided with his wife and mother at Fordham, a few miles out of town, but was at his desk in the office, from nine in the morning till the evening paper went to press. . . . he was invariably punctual and industrious." See N. P. Willis, "Death of " from the Home Journal, October 20, 1849, reprinted in Carlson, Recognition of Poe, pp. 36-41.)
• 1845 (Feb. 22) - Poe becomes an editor of The Broadway Journal. By July 12, he is the sole editor and by October 24, the sole owner as well. Poe finally has full control of a magazine, but one already laboring perilously under serious debts.
• 1845 (Jan. 29) - Poe's most famous poem, "The Raven" is published in the New York Evening Mirror, where it becomes a sensational hit. It is widely reprinted and brings Poe considerable praise and fame, although financially he receives only about $15 for the initial printing. (Many stories have been told of the writing of "The Raven." Indeed, the list of people who claimed to be present at its infancy seemed to grow with each reminiscence published after Poe's death. Poe's explanation of the poem's creation, "The Philosophy of Composition," is largely fictional, by Poe's own admission. The most probable account is that Poe wrote the poem in late 1844, while staying at the farm of Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Henry Brennan in New York.)
• 1845 (Nov. 19) - Poe's Tales and The Raven and Other Poems are published in New York by Wiley and Putnam.
• 1846 (Jan. 3) - Buried under with financial problems, The Broadway Journal ceases publication.
• 1846 (April) - Godey's Lady's Book publishes the first installment of Poe's "The Literati of New York City: Some Honest Opinions at Random Respecting Their Authorial Merits, with Occasional Words of Personality." Copies of Godey's sell unusually well, requiring an additional printing. Poe publishes five additional installments before ending the series with the October issue.
• 1846 (about May) - Poe moves his family to a cottage in Fordham, New York. (This quaint little house, now cared for by the Bronx Historical Society, is open to the public.)
• 1847 (Jan. 30) - Virginia Poe dies of tuberculosis in Fordham, New York. She is entombed on February 2 in the Valentine family vault in the Dutch Reformed Church at Fordham. (The bed in which she died may still be seen in this house. The tops of the posts at the foot of the bed are cut off so that it will fit under the sloping roof.)
• 1848 (about July 15) - Poe's prose poem Eureka is published by George Putnam. Criticism is mixed, some lauding it as containing brilliant insights and some denouncing it as pantheisic. Poe denies charges of pantheism. The publishers do not hold Poe's enthusiam for the work and print only 500 copies, of which an unknown number were actually sold. There is insufficient interest to justify Poe's much-hoped-for second edition.
• 1848 (November) - Poe begins to court New England widow and poetess Sarah Helen Whitman. After considerable effort, he manages to secure a promise of marriage. Mrs. Whitman is concerned about his reputation for drinking. Poe pledges to be temperate.
• 1848 (December 23) - Poe fails to meet the condition of total abstinence from drinking and Mrs. Whitman calls off the engagement.
• 1849 (June 29) - Poe begins a southern lecture tour to raise money and support for his proposed magazine, The Stylus. He arrives in Richmond on July 14.
• 1849 (July?) - Poe meets with the now widowed Elmira Royster Shelton. Rekindling the youthful romance, Poe asks her to marry him. Mrs. Shelton is initially hesitant, but by August 25 has apparently accepted Poe's proposal. (By remarrying, Mrs. Shelton would have had to give up a large portion of the inheritance left by her husband, as stipulated in his will.)
• 1849 (August 27) - Poe joins the Sons of Temperance, Shockoe Hill Division, No. 54. (This society required that its members abstain completely from the drinking of any alcoholic beverages.)
• 1849 (Sept. 27) - Poe leaves Richmond, perhaps aboard the steamship Pocahontas. He arrives in Baltimore on September 28.
• 1849 (Oct. 7) - dies in Baltimore in the Washington College Hospital (later Church Home and Hospital).
• 1849 (Oct. 8 or 9) - is buried in his grandfather's lot in the Westminster Burying Ground. The ceremony is officiated by the Reverend William T. D. Clemm.
• 1849 (Oct. 9) - Rufus Wilmot Griswold's slanderous obituary of Poe, the so-called "Ludwig" article, is published in the New York Tribune. It is widely copied.
• 1850 - The first two volumes of Griswold's collected Works of the Late are published. Volume I contains a preface "To the Reader" by Maria Clemm, Poe's mother-in-law, announcing that Poe himself had selected Griswold as his literary executor and describing the edition as having been put together for her benefit. (There is no other substantiation for the idea that Poe selected Griswold and it may or may not be true. Despite the claim that the books were "for my benefit," Maria Clemm saw none of the profits gathered by Griswold and the publishers.) By the end of October, a third volume is added, containing Griswold's infamous "Memoir of the Author." In 1856, the fourth and final volume of Griswold's edition of Poe's works is published. (In subsequent editions, Maria Clemm's preface was removed and Griswold's "Memoir" shifted to volume I.)
• 1857 (Aug. 27) - Poe's literary nemesis, Rufus Wilmot Griswold, dies. His slanderous biographical memoir of Poe continues to accompany the standard edition of Poe's works until 1875, selling as many as several thousand copies a year.
• 1860 - Sarah Helen Whitman, Poe's former fiancee, publishes a defense of Poe in a book called Edgar Poe and His Critics.
• 1871 (Feb. 16) - Maria Clemm dies in Baltimore in the Church Home and Hospital (the same hospital in which died 22 years earlier.)
• 1874 (June 14) - Rosalie Poe, Edgar's younger sister, dies at the Epiphany Church Home in Washington, D.C. Found in her hands is an envelope containing a check for $50, sent by a philanthropist hoping to ease her financial plight. She is buried with the nuns in a section of Rock Creek Cemetery. (Her tombstone erroneously reads 1812-1874. Rosalie was born in 1811.)
• 1874 - A new edition of Poe's collected works appears with a favorable memoir by John Henry Ingram.
• 1875 (Nov. 17) - Poe's Memorial Grave is dedicated in Baltimore with elaborate ceremonies.
• 1880 - John Henry Ingram publishes his full-length biography of Poe: : His Life, Letters and Opinions (London, 2 vols).
• 1885 (May 4) - The Actors' Monument, a sculpture by Richard Henry Park, is unveiled in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The ceremonies include a presentation by Edwin Booth, the most respected actor of his day. (In 1994, this statue was moved to the Poe Museum in Richmond, Viriginia.)
• 1910 - Poe is inducted into the Hall of Fame in New York.


One the greatest and unhappiest of American poets, a master of the horror tale, and the patron saint of the detective story. first gained critical acclaim in France and England. His reputation in America was relatively slight until the French-influenced writers like Ambroce Bierce, Robert W. Chambers, and representatives of the Lovecraft school created interest in his work.
"The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends and where the other begins?" (from The Premature Burial, 1844)
was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to parents who were itinerant actors. His father David Poe Jr. died probably in 1810. Elizabeth Hopkins Poe died in 1811, leaving three children. Edgar was taken into the home of a Richmond merchant John Allan. The remaining children were cared for by others. Poe's brother William died young and sister Rosalie become later insane. At the age of five Poe could recite passages of English poetry. Later one of his teachers in Richmond said: "While the other boys wrote mere mechanical verses, Poe wrote genuine poetry; the boy was a born poet."
Poe was brought up partly in England (1815-20), where he attended Manor School at Stoke Newington. Later it become the setting for his story 'William Wilson'. Never legally adopted, Poe took Allan's name for his middle name. Poe attended the University of Virginia (1826-27), but was expelled for not paying his gambling debts. This led to quarrel with Allan, who refused to pay the debts. Allan later disowned him. In 1826 Poe became engaged to Elmira Royster, but her parents broke off the engagement. During his stay at the university, Poe composed some tales, but little is known of his apprentice works. In 1827 Poe joined the U.S. Army as a common soldier under assumed name, Edgar A. Perry. He was sent to Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, which provided settings for 'The Gold Bug' (1843) and 'The Balloon Hoax' (1844). Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827), which Poe published at his own expense, sold poorly. It has become one of the rarest volumes in American literary history. In 1830 Poe entered West Point. He was dishonorably discharged next year, for intentional neglect of his duties - apparently as a result of his own determination to be released.
In 1833 Poe lived in Baltimore with his father's sister Mrs. Maria Clemm. After winning a prize of $50 for the short story 'MS Found in a Bottle,' he started career as a staff member of various magazines, among others the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond (1835-37), Burton's Gentleman's Magazine in Philadelphia (1839-40), and Graham's Magazine (1842-43). During these years he wrote some of his best-known stories. Southern Literary Messenger he had to leave partly due to his alcoholism.
In 1836 Poe married his 13-year-old cousin Virginia Clemm. She bust a blood vessel in 1842, and remained a virtual invalid until her death from tuberculosis five years later. After the death of his wife, Poe began to lose his struggle with drinking and drugs. He had several romances, including an affair with the poet Sarah Helen Whitman, who said: "His proud reserve, his profound melancholy, his unworldliness - may we not say his unearthliness of nature - made his character one very difficult of comprehension to the casual observer." In 1849 Poe become again engaged to Elmira Royster, who was at that time Mrs. Shelton. To Virginia he addressed the famous poem 'Annabel Lee' (1849) - its subject, Poe's favorite, is the death of a beautiful woman.
For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-time, I lie down by the side
Of my darling - my darling - my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
(from 'Annabel Lee', 1849)
Poe's first collection, Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, appeared in 1840. It contained one of his most famous work, 'The Fall of the House of Usher.' In the story the narrator visits the crumbling mansion of his friend, Roderick Usher, and tries to dispel Roderick's gloom. Although his twin sister, Madeline, has been placed in the family vault dead, Roderick is convinced she lives. Madeline arises in trance, and carries her brother to death. The house itself splits asunder and sinks into the tarn. The tale has inspired several film adaptations. Roger Corman's version from 1960, starring Mark Damon, Harry Ellerbe, Myrna Fahey, and Vincent Price, was the first of the director's Poe movies. The Raven (1963) collected old stars of the horror genre, Vincent Price, Peter, Lorre, and Boris Karloff. According to the director, Price and Lorre "drove Boris a little crazy" - the actor was not used to improvised dialogue. Corman filmed the picture in fifteen days, using revamped portions of his previous Poe sets.
In Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (1838), Poe's longest tale, the secret theme is the terror of whiteness. Poe invented tribes that live near the Antarctic Circle. The strange bestial humans are black, even down to their teeth. They have been exposed to the terrible visitations of men and white storms. These are mixed together, and they slaughter the crew of Pym's vessel. The Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges has assumed that Poe chose the color intuitively, or for the same reasons as in Melville explained in the chapter 'The Whiteness of the Whale' in his Moby-Dick. Later the 'lost world' idea was developed by Edgar Rice Burroughs in The Land That Time Forgot (1924) and other works.
During the early 1840s, Poe's best-selling work was curiously The Conchologist's First Book (1839). It was based on Thomas Wyatt's work, which sold poorly because of its high prize. Wyatt was Poe's friend and asked him to abridge the book and put his own name on its title page - the publisher had strongly opposed any idea of producing a cheaper edition. The Conchologist's First Book was a success. Its first edition was sold out in two months and other editions followed.
The dark poem of lost love, 'The Raven,' brought Poe national fame, when it appeared in 1845. "With me poetry has been not a purpose, but a passion; and the passions should be held in reverence: they must not - they cannot at will be excited, with an eye to the paltry compensations, or the more paltry commendations, of mankind." (from The Raven and Other Poems, preface, 1845) In a lecture in Boston the author said that the two most effective letters in the English language were o and r - this inspired the expression "nevermore" in 'The Raven', and because a parrot is unworthy of the dignity of poetry, a raven could well repeat the word at the end of each stanza. Lenore rhymed with "nevermore." The poems has inspired a number of artists. Perhaps the most renowed are Gustave Doré's (1832-1883) melancholic illustrations.
Poe suffered from bouts of depression and madness, and he attempted suicide in 1848. In September the following year he disappeared for three days after a drink at a birthday party and on his way to visit his new fiancée in Richmond. He turned up in delirious condition in Baltimore gutter and died on October 7, 1849.
Poe's work and his theory of "pure poetry" was early recognized especially in France, where he inspired Jules Verne, Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), Paul Valéry (1871-1945) and Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898). "In Edgar Poe," wrote Baudelaire, "there is no tiresome snivelling; but everywhere and at all times an indefatigable enthusiasm in seeking the ideal." In America Emerson called him "the jingle man." Poe's influence is seen in many other modern writers, as in Junichiro Tanizaki's early stories and Kobo Abe's novels, or more clearly in the development of the19th century detective novel. J.L. Borges, R.L. Stevenson, and a vast general readership, have been impressed by the stories which feature Poe's detective Dupin ('The Murders in the Rue Morgue', 1841; 'The Purloined Letter,' 1845) and the morbid metaphysical speculation of 'The Facts in the Case of M. Waldermar' (1845). Thomas M. Disch has argued in his The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of (1998) that it was actually Poe who was the originator of the modern science fiction. One of his tales, 'Mellonta Taunta' (1840) describes a future society, an anti-Utopia, in which Poe satirizes his own times. Another tales in this vein are 'The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Sceherazade' and 'A Descent into the Maelstrom'. However, Poe was not concerned with any specific scientific concept but mostly explored different realities, one of the central concerns of science fiction ever since.
In his supernatural fiction Poe usually dealt with paranoia rooted in personal psychology, physical or mental enfeeblement, obsessions, the damnation of death, feverish fantasies, the cosmos as source of horror and inspiration, without bothering himself with such supernatural beings as ghosts, werewolves, vampires, and so on. Some of his short stories are humorous, among them 'The Devil in the Belfry,' 'The Duc de l'Omelette,' 'Bon-Bon' and 'Never Bet the Devil Your Head,' all of which employ the Devil as an ironic figure of fun. - Poe was also one of the most prolific literary journalists in American history, one whose extensive body of reviews and criticism has yet to be collected fully. James Russell Lowell (1819-91) once wrote about Poe: "Three fifths of him genius and two fifths sheer fudge."


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