Thursday 28 October 2010

Edgar Allan Poe . . .

Continuing with the Edgar Allan Poe topic, a little while back we took up an assignment where we had to choose a historic person and write a little bio about them. Despite the fact we all write fiction, this was a great little exercise to see how well we write non-fiction incase we ever decide to broaden our horizons (Despite the fact I am now employed to do most of the web-copywriting for my company).

Anyway, as if by coincidence, I chose Edgar Allan Poe, done a little research, and this was the result.

“Quoth the Raven Nevermore…”

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door —
Only this, and nothing more."

“The Raven,” Edgar Allan Poe.

Edgar Allan Poe, born January 19, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts, is mostly remembered for his writing in the macabre, works that include titles such as `The Pit and the Pendulum`, and `The Murders in the Rue Morgue`. His poetry was just as dark, with pieces such as `The Raven`, as quoted, and `A Dream Within a Dream.`

He is also credited as being the inventor of the `Detective Fiction`, starring the fictitious C. Auguste Dupin and contributing to the growing world of Science Fiction. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle said of Poe, "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?"

As well as his interests in Physics, Cosmology, and Cryptography, he was also a well-known literary critic, however this did not make him popular. A fellow critic, James Russell Lowell, described him as “the most discriminating, philosophical, and fearless critic upon imaginative works who has written in America.” His own work was often under such criticism also, often being described as “vulgar” and “too poetical”.

Despite his reputation, Poe’s writing career was successful, but the circumstances revolving around his personal life were not. In 1835 at the age of 27, he married his thirteen year old cousin, Virginia Clemm. Even though the couple were close, their relationship was often described as that of brother and sister, and the marriage was never consummated. A few years into their marriage, Poe was involved in a scandal involving Frances Sargent Osgood and Elizabeth F. Ellet.

In 1845 rumours of an affair between Poe and their friend Frances, a 34 year old poet, began to circulate. These were started by Elizabeth Ellet, who was said to have admired Poe and was jealous of his friendship with Frances. The rumours made it back to Virginia who had for some time been battling an illness. On January 30th, 1847, Virginia died of Tuberculosis, aged just 24, but upon her death bed it is said that she stated `Ellet had murdered her`.

Poe’s life took a downward struggle after his wife’s death. Even though some of his best works were said to be inspired by the tragic event, his behaviour became erratic and he developed a serious drink and drugs problem. On October 3, 1849, Poe was found on the streets of Baltimore delirious, in great stress, and in need of immediate assisstance. He was taken to Washington College Hospital and died on October 7, aged just 40 years old, and reputedly calling out the name Reynolds. The person to who he was refering to remained unclear.

To this day the cause of his death is a mystery. Speculation has included heart disease, epliepsy, syphlis, and even cholora and rabies. However, biographers state that after his wife’s death, he became increasingly unstable, and even though he had a further two relationships after, he still was not happy. They suggest that his frequent theme of the `death of a beautiful woman` in his works stems from the repeated loss of women in his life, which brings about another speculation that Poe, despite how cold and hard he was reputed to have been, and the number of enemies he made, merely died of a broken heart.

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