TV episodes, radio broadcasts, stage performances, and music (with varying degrees of success). Among the earliest, however, was one he may have witnessed in his own lifetime.
"The Gold-Bug" was both the most popular of Poe's works as well as the most lucrative for the author himself. The story follows the seemingly insane William Legrand in a search for buried treasure left behind on a South Carolina island by the pirate Captain Kidd. In his quest for the lost pirate gold, he solves a series of riddles, the first of which was in the form of a golden-colored scarab beetle. The initial publication of this innovative story in June 1843 earned Poe an impressive $100 award. was widely reprinted after its initial publication. It is believed to be Poe's widest-circulated work during his lifetime.
More surprisingly, it was the first of Poe's works adapted for the stage. On August 8, 1843, "The Gold-Bug" premiered at Philadelphia's American Theatre. Written by and starring Silas B. Steele, the play was not as successful as the fictitious hero Legrand. A review in the local newspaper The Spirit of the Times by its editor John Du Solle noted: "Mr. Steele had a good house at his benefit on Tuesday night,
and the performances were generally good. The Gold Bug, however,
dragged, and was rather tedious. The frame work was well enough, but
wanted filling up."
In truth, "The Gold-Bug" could not be easily replicated on stage. The most novel aspect of the story was its riddles, with which readers could play along, including the famous cryptogram in the form of a substitution cypher. To solve it, one might need a paper and pencil (as well as some thoughtful time) which, presumably, the American Theatre did not provide that day.