January 19, 2014

5 Favorite Posts on Edgar Allan Poe

In honor of Edgar Allan Poe's 205th birthday (he was born in Boston on January 19, 1809), here are five of my favorite posts that I've written about Poe in the several years since I created this site. They are presented here in no particular order and were chosen not based on popularity but just how interesting I personally find them.

5. Poe on stage: rather tedious
First published: August 8, 2012
If people think today's adaptations of the work of Poe are new or unique, they are sorely mistaken. The first stage adaptation of one of Poe's tales, "The Gold-Bug," premiered in Philadelphia all the way back in 1843. Not unlike today's adaptations, this one was deemed to be terrible. Incidentally, I often like to point out that "The Gold-Bug" was one of Poe's most well-known works in his lifetime, much more than the horror stories we know him for today.

4. Poe and Darley: In his best manner
First published: January 31, 2011
Speaking of "The Gold-Bug," that same tale inspired some of the earliest illustrations of Poe's works. In this case, the illustrator was Felix O. C. Darley (who also created the caricature of Poe seen at right). More importantly, however, Poe and Darley signed an agreement that would have made the young artist the official illustrator for The Stylus, Poe's long-imagined literary journal. Few 21st century Poe fans seem to recognize the importance of this project, nor how close it came to becoming a reality.

3. The fever called Living
First published: April 28, 2010
For someone who runs a web site based on anniversaries in literary history, this one was a no-brainer. One of Poe's greatest poems, "For Annie," was concurrently published on April 28, 1849 in two different periodicals. It was also one of his final works in the months before his death. It helps, too, that the poem is very Poe-like as an odd celebration of death. It is, however, one of his most poetic of poems. The post also inspired a great number of comments, which you can still read if interested.

2. A great Poe hoax
First published: August 2, 2010
Imagine finding an unpublished manuscript poem by Edgar Allan Poe over 20 years after his death, at a time when fervor for Poe is soaring. Now, imagine your discovery being published in New York, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, and nearly every other major city in the country, causing a fantastic stir and instant fame on the person who found the poem. Now imagine the whole thing was a hoax perpetrated by an up and coming poet who happened to have been born the very day that Poe died. James Whitcomb Riley proved his point — and, frankly, Poe would have enjoyed the ruse.

1. Edgar Allan Poe is dead
First published: October 9, 2010
Today, one simply cannot discuss Edgar Allan Poe without discussing Rufus Wilmot Griswold, the man who popularized the "myth of Poe." That myth — which portrays Poe as a drunk, drug-addled madman, a loner without friends, who bordered on insanity — owes much of its origins to this obituary written by Griswold immediately after Poe's mysterious death in 1849. Regardless of its veracity, the Poe myth has enthralled generations of fans and readers — and made Griswold into the consummate literary villain.

For those interested in continuing the legacy of Poe on his birthday in the city of his birth, please join the Edgar Allan Poe Foundation of Boston as we attempt to raise the funds necessary to create and install a life-sized statue of him near his birthplace. Every donation is important as we reach the final stages of this effort. You can donate safely and securely online.

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