Thursday, January 19, 2006

WaPo Kid Faks On EdPo

Edgar Allan Poe
Always Wore Black
& Enjoyed Tippling

Today is the birthday of Edgar Allan Poe, one of America's most famous authors and poets. Although his pecuniary resources were generally scanty and precarious during his lifetime, his popular works have never been out of print. Poe even has a National Football League team named after his best known work, The Raven. He has become a virtual icon with his image appearing on coffee mugs, tee shirts and refrigerator magnets. Halloween episodes of The Simpsons have also included appearances and references to his works. Happy Birthday Eddy, you Angel of the Odd. You have finally hit the big time.

  • Eddy, as he often signed his letters, was a show business kid, born in Boston, Massachusetts on this day in 1809. His name at birth was Edgar Poe, and his parents were traveling stage actors. On the back of a miniature portrait of herself, Edgar's mother Elizabeth 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."
  • His mother died in 1811 when Edgar was two years old. His father died two days after his mother and that death is shrouded in mystery as he was not near his wife at the time of his death in Norfolk, Virginia. Poe was taken into the home of John and Frances Allan of Richmond. His sister was adopted by another Richmond family, and his brother went to stay with a set of grandparents in Baltimore. He was never legally adopted by the Allan family, but Poe incorporated their surname into his own name. He rarely signed his name Edgar Allan Poe by the way, but rather Edgar A. Poe.
  • Poe's early education took place in London, England and in Richmond, Virginia. In 1824, while attending the William Burke School in Richmond, young Eddy swam six miles up the James River against a heavy tide. His schoolmaster followed in a boat, in case he needed help.
  • Poe attended the University of Virginia in Charlottesville in 1826. Unfortunately, broken by gambling debts, he had to leave college. Poe then enlisted in the Army and two years later he obtained an appointment to West Point. He wanted out of the military so he deliberately stopped attending classes and chapel. He got his wish and was court martialed in 1831.
  • Chicks dug him. His broad forehead was considererd a mark of intelligence. His "keen visage" was "pleasing and prepossessing."
  • Edgar was the original Man In Black. Take that, Johnny Cash. He seemed to prefer a black frock coat and a black cravat...tied into a loose knot.
  • There is a lot of controversy about whether or not Poe was an opium addict for at least part of his life. It should be noted that four of his fictional characters were addicts. His abuse of alcohol is well documented. In 1849 while residing in Richmond, Poe joined the "Sons of Temperance" (his generation's AA) whose members abstained from drinking alcohol. He did this because he wanted to marry a widowed woman who loathed his drinking to excess. It didn't take, and they didn't marry.
  • Poe wrote for Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, a precursor to Maxim. In 1841 another publication called Graham's Magazine published Murder in the Rue Morgue, which is now considered the first modern detective story.
  • In 1836 Edgar, age 27, married his cousin Virginia, age 13, in Richmond Virginia. Great Balls O' Fire. He didn't catch the hell that Jerry Lee Lewis did for doing the same thing.

Poe's Grave, Westminster Hall & Burial Grounds
509 West Fayette Street, Baltimore, Maryland

  • Poe died in Baltimore, Maryland on October 7, 1849 from an alcohol related incident and possible mugging at the hands of electioneering hooligans. He was beaten and left lying in the street, found by a friend and taken to a hospital. He was not wearing his own clothes when found, which lead to the belief he had been forcibly conscripted into taking part with multiple voter practices by an election gang. Baltimore politics were rough in those days.
  • Edgar's young sister Rosalie died indigent in a poor house in Washington, D.C., and she is buried with the nuns in Rock Creek Cemetery.


Anonymous DRFS/Sue said...

I've always been fascinated by Poe and even though it's been years since I visited the Poe house in Richmond...I rememeber bits and pieces. I believe his mother is buried at St. John's Church in an unmarked grave since she was an actress. Or maybe I made that up...

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Mataz said...

You have a fellow admirer out there. Seems like Eddy hit the big time with this guy a long time ago.

9:04 AM  
Blogger Phil said...

Edgar was a bit of Playa in his time, what with the opium habit, the clothes, the mustache..

10:16 AM  
Blogger Smash said...

He's one of my favorites to read. Thanks for all this info! Very interesting.

11:04 AM  
Blogger Lonnie Bruner said...

Have you seen this?

11:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had no idea that his sister was interred here in D.C. I'll have to visit her grave.

One of my favorite Simpson episodes is the "Nevermore" rendition by Bart and Homer. The poem is faithfully recited, and the brooding, pyschotic feel permeates the program. Two cognac bottles up for that!


12:22 PM  
Blogger Bon said...

Damn Cube. That sure was uplifting. I think I will go get in my bed for the rest of the day.

1:40 PM  
Blogger I-66 said...

I learned more today about Edgar Allan Poe than in any school years combined.

Take THAT Fairfax County Public Schools!

1:41 PM  
Blogger VP of Dior said...

the musical based on the raven, "Nevermore" has gotten great reviews. you should check it out.

11:47 AM  

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