From thinking about publishing a travel post to 13 fascinating facts about Poe, I went through all of those ideas, and gave them up for today. The good thing: I have a few half-done posts that I can polish up to use for a later date. The other nice thing: I think I ended up with something else I preferred – a nice mix of 13 cool things about Poe, some of them bookish, others more about this talented personality and his life, and then some more!
While I cannot profess to have read Poe profusely, his Tell-Tale Heart remains one of my favorite short stories of all time. And I read this ages ago, when I was not yet a tween (I think!)! Of course, I have read a quite a few more of his works over the years, but nothing has replaced the Tell-Tale Heart in my heart!
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Anyways, now on to the
13 Cool Things About Poe
Here they are, a list of random things, facts about Poe himself, Poe-nspirations, and other things related to Poe in some way or the other.
When Dickens Met Poe
I first read about this meeting between Dickens and Poe in the picture book ‘A Raven Named Grip‘! Which is one of the reasons I absolutely adore picture books I learn so much within those few pages often. And thank you Cybils awards. I discovered this book from the nominations for this years awards.
Anyway, back to the meeting.
Edgar Allan Poe was an admirer of Dickens’s works, and strongly recommended his books to American readers. In 1842, when Dickens was touring the US, he met Poe in Philadelphia. A meeting of great minds and I would have liked to be a fly on the wall then (source – the book I read + PoeMuseum website)
A Raven Named Grip: How a Bird Inspired Two Famous Writers, Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe by Marilyn Singer(Author) and Edwin Fotheringham (Illustrator) (6 – 9 years, and up)
From England to the United States and back again, this is the true and fascinating story of how a brilliant bird captured two famous authors’ hearts, inspired their writing, and formed an unexpected bond between them. This ingenious slice of history, biography, and even ornithology celebrates the fact that creative inspiration can be found everywhere.
Doyle’s Salute to Poe
“These tales of ratiocination owe most of their popularity to being something in a new key. I do not mean to say that they are not ingenious—but people think them more ingenious than they are—on account of their method and air of method.” – Edgar Allen Poe
*ratiocination – logical reasoning
Edgar Allan Poe is credited with creating the modern detective story. He did so when he wrote “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” featuring the fictional detective C. Auguste Dupin. Poe later two more stories with Dupin’s character including The Purloined Letter.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle said this of Poe at a lecture he gave in London to commemorate Poe’s centenary year: “Where was the detective story until Poe breathed the breath of life into it?” Doyle also openly admitted that he based Holmes on Poe’s Dupin.
Doyle also talked about how Poe influenced science-fiction later in the same speech, by tracing roots from Jules Verne to “Journey to the Moon,” and from Jekyll and Hyde to Poe’s “William Wilson.” He talked of Poe as someone who had so many ideas: “This one man’s brain was like a seed capsule which scatters its seeds carelessly to every wind. The capsule withers, but the seed spreads and flourishes without end.”
Jules Verne and Poe
Jules Verne’s ‘20000 Leagues Under the Sea‘ was most likely my first sci-fi read, and remains a beloved one even today, decades after I read it. Verne was highly influenced by Poe’s writings, to the extent that he even wrote a sequel to one of Poe’s works. Which ones, you ask me?
Edgar Allan Poe wrote The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket in 1838. It is his only complete novel, and relates the tale of the young Arthur Gordon Pym. Pym stows away aboard a whaling ship called the Grampus, faces various adventures and misadventures, and the novel finally ends rather abruptly as he continues towards the South Pole (source).
Verne wrote An Antarctic Mystery in 1897 in continuation of Poe’s novel, and now I need to read both of them!
Truth and Poe’s Fiction
Fiction always has some truth within; in some aspects of the story at the least. And it is true with many of Poe’s works too, even the bizarre ones (really? you ask? aren’t they all?).
For example, The Tell-Tale Heart most likely had its origins in a crime that occurred on the evening of April 6, 1830, in Salem, Massachusetts. The prosecutor on the case was Daniel Webster, and he published his arguments as a pamphlet. He wrote of the murderer’s guilt thus: “the secret which the murderer possesses soon comes to possess him….the whole world sees it in his face, reads it in his eyes, and almost hears its workings in the very silence of his thoughts. It has become his master.” Seems familiar??? You can read more about this case and its connection to The Tell-Tale Heart here.
Check out this article on Biography.com for more Poe connections to true stories.
Poe’s Romantic Side
Most of us associate Poe with the dark and macabre and that is totally understandable. But Poe also had a softer side to him, the romantic side that wrote odes to the loves of his life, that honored the women he knew and admired as well.
Here is one of the poems he wrote first in 1831 and revised again in 1845 (this version appears below).
Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicean barks of yore
That gently, o’er a perfumed sea,
The weary, way-worn wanderer bore
To his own native shore.
On desperate seas long wont to roam,
Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,
Thy Naiad airs have brought me home
To the glory that was Greece,
And the grandeur that was Rome.
Lo, in yon brilliant window-niche
How statue-like I see thee stand,
The agate lamp within thy hand,
Ah! Psyche, from the regions which
Are Holy Land!
-Edgar Allan Poe
Cool User of Words
While Edgar Allan Poe created a few new words in his works, he often used many existing ones in cool and wonderful ways, almost showcasing them like never before. I first read about the word ‘tintinabulation‘ in his poem The Bells and was awed by how he used it and the poem itself! You can hear the bells ringing as you read the poem out loud!!
You can find a humongous list of words found in Poe’s works at A Poe Bookshelf
Mystery in Death
In a somewhat ironical and apt fashion, Poe’s sudden death at the age of 40 remains enveloped in mystery. Various theories have been proposed: from being a victim of cooping (a method of voter fraud) to dipsomania; from murder to rabies; and more. But the mystery remains.
You can read this article at Britannica as well as the previous linked NPS article for more on his death.
Poe and the Ravens
His poem ‘The Raven‘ was inspired by the pet raven that Charles Dickens owned. Dickens wrote about Grip in his book Barnaby Rudge, and Poe reviewed the book for Graham’s Magazine.
The Baltimore Ravens might be the only (or one of few) sports team to be named to honor an author! (named after Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem ‘The Raven.’ )
The Poe Toaster
Like Poe himself, the ‘Poe Toaster‘ remains a mystery to this day. For more than 70 years, an anonymous figure visited Poe’s grave on his birthday and celebrated it in a unique way, earning him the nickname ‘Poe Toaster.’
This person would visit Poe’s grave in Baltimore, Maryland, before dawn every January 19. Dressed in a black coat, a white scarf, and a wide-brimmed black hat, he would pour himself a glass from a bottle of cognac he had brought, recite a brief toast to Poe, then leave the rest of the cognac by the gravestone, and decorate the grave with three red roses. His final appearance at Poe’s grave was in 2009. Since then, many have tried to emulate the Poe Toaster’s actions, but failed in one way or the other.
Puzzles, Puns, and Poe
Edgar Allen Poe loved puns and puzzles! He loved creating them, solving them, and talking about them too. What he said of puns: “Of puns it has been said that those who most dislike them are those who are least able to utter them.”
This Poe article titled ‘A Few Words on Secret Writing‘ shows his passion for cryptography! You can even attempt to solve a couple of ciphers presented there before you scroll down to the solution. Of of the ciphers he published was finally solved in 2000 (source).
Here are a few more riddles from Poe for you to check out at goodriddlesnow.
And his name as well as quotes/books by him lend itself to puns in so many ways! Like these below:
- What did they yell at Edgar Allen Poe when he nearly walked into a tree?
- I only buy Edgar Allan Poe books at thrift stores…
- That way I always pay less, nevermore
- My little sister just discovered she loves the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe
- She just can’t stop Raven about it
For more Poe-pun, see here.
Poe-Inspired Lit for Young Ones
Here are a few books for young readers (from board books to reads for teens) inspired by Poe. I have read quite a few of them, and for the ones I am yet to get to, I have previewed them enough to know I will love them!
- Babylit First Steps: The Edgar Collection by Jennifer Adams (Author) and Ron Stucki (Illustrator). This includes three books Edgar and the Tattle-Tale Heart, Edgar the Raven Gets Ready for Bed, and Edgar and the Tree House of Usher). Meet the plucky toddler Edgar the Raven! He’s mischievous, disobedient, and contrary. (baby – 2 years, and up!)
- Little Poet Edgar Allan Poe: Nevermore! by Kate Coombs (Author) and Carme Lemniscates (Illustrator). This one is part of the Babylit series for biographies and I read a few of them, including Poe sometime ago. Each one is adorable and enjoyable! (Baby – 2 years, and up)
- The Raven: Edgar Allan Poe Reimagined: An Edgar Allan Poe Christmas Carol by Edgar Allan Poe (Author), Holly Michele (Author, Illustrator). Edgar Allan Poe’s immortal poem, The Raven, is retold through Charles Dickens’s, A Christmas Carol. (5+)
- Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems by J. Patrick Lewis (Author), Michael Slack (Illustrator). Is this poetry? Math? A brainteaser? Yes! It’s all that and more. (6 – 9 years and up)
- Edgar Allan’s Official Crime Investigation Notebook by Mary Amato. First Slurpy the goldfish gets fishnapped. Then other things begin to disappear from Ms. Herschel’s classroom. Odder still, the culprit leaves poetry behind. Edgar intends to find the criminal responsible with the help of his notebook. However, he’s going to have to beat his rivals, form careful alliances, and make sense of a few surprising discoveries.(6 – 9 years and up)
- The Man Who Was Poe by Avi.(8 – 12 years, and up)
- The Misadventures of Edgar & Allan Poe: series by Gordon McAlpine. Includes The Tell-Tale Start, Once Upon a Midnight Eerie, and The Pet and the Pendulum. Meet Edgar and Allan Poe — twelve-year-old identical twins, the great-great-great-great-grandnephews of Edgar Allan Poe. (9 – 12 years, and up)
- The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley. A Usher vibe throughout here (12+)
- The Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allan Poo by Dwight L. MacPherson and Thomas Boatwright. No typos here, it is Edgar Allan Poo indeed. (this is one for all ages!)
Other Poe-Inspired Lit Stuff: Really Lit!
Poe inspired books for adults too. And while there are a great many, I just wanted to feature a few here:
Poe for Your Problems: Uncommon Advice from History’s Least Likely Self-Help Guru by Catherine Baab-Muguira
Description: (Excerpted) An inspirational tale for black sheep everywhere, Poe for Your Problems will teach you how to overcome life’s biggest challenges and succeed at work, love, and art—despite the odds and no matter your flaws.
More than 100 puzzles inspired by the master of American spooky and scary.
My First Thoughts: With Puzzle Day coming up on January 29th, and Poe’s birthday now on the 19th of January, and my passion for puzzles, this book is one I am working on with gusto! There is also a Word Search edition of this.
The Poe Shadow: A Novel by Matthew Pearl
Description (excerpt): Baltimore, 1849. The body of Edgar Allan Poe has been buried in an unmarked grave. The public, the press, and even Poe’s own family and friends accept the conclusion that Poe was a second-rate writer who met a disgraceful end as a drunkard. Everyone, in fact, seems to believe this except a young Baltimore lawyer named Quentin Clark, an ardent admirer who puts his own career and reputation at risk in a passionate crusade to salvage Poe’s.
My Comments: How have I not heard of this author or this book before? Seems like I should have! This book sounds so fascinating and I have now put it on my wish list and on hold with the library as well.
Edgar Allan Poe: An Adult Coloring Book by Odessa Begay
Leave the modern world and its demands behind while adding your creative touch to settings, motifs, and details inspired by Poe’s stories. Each image is accompanied by a short, atmospheric excerpt from the story.
My Thoughts: I always love drawing and coloring and doodling and such, so this book is totally cool for me. I hope to get to it soon after I work on the current coloring project I started a few days ago.
In Poe-pular Culture!
He certainly is very ‘Poe-pular’ even today; as an example, Poe has over 450 credits on IMDB (455 of them as a writer)!! And then there
- is his appearance on shows.
- I still recall watching the Gilmore Girls episode with Poes taking over their town!!
- Then there is Altered Carbon. I recently read about the Poe connection, and while the Netflix show itself was canceled after two seasons, I think I might just give it a watch (since I don’t read too many books of this cyberpunk genre)
- Of course, there are so many more that I can’t list them all here..
- his poe-pularity during Halloween. More people seem to dress up as Poe than other authors (maybe the Raven helps!)
- in songs and comics too (Queen’s Nevermore for one, and Batman: Nevermore)
Note: All sources and references are linked directly (Wikipedia/NPS/VintageNews/A Poe Bookshelf/Poe Museum/and more)
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, which Poe work is your favorite? Any Poe inspired books that you have enjoyed and would like to share? As always, I welcome all and any thoughts on this post and recommendations too.