"Quoff the Raven, "Nevermore!""
It is extremely likely that you have heard this intriguing phrase uttered at some point in your life, but it is only a snapshot of the dark literary genius that wrote it. Edgar Allan Poe penned many tales and poems that catapulted him into macabre fame, among them his 1841 detective story The Murders in the Rue Morgue, and the aforementioned 1845 poem The Raven.
Born on January 19, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts to English actors, Poe had an aptitude for the English language, training with classical education in Scotland, England and then Virginia, where his penchant for gambling saw him kicked out of the university there. Poe began writing and published a pamphlet of Byronic-style poems entitled Tamerlane, and Other Poems in 1827.
Poe lived a poverty-stricken life and was in and out of military training, but it was obvious that writing was his true love. In 1833 he began winning competitions for his stories - most notably MS. Found in a Bottle, before he bounced around from literary journals and publications as an editor. His versatile writing style saw him pen short stories, poetry, a novel, a textbook, a book of scientific theory, and hundreds of essays and book reviews, but he is always regarded as one of America's first great literary critics, as well as a pioneer of many fictional subjects today.
In January 1845, the publication of the poem The Raven in a copy of The New York Mirror made Poe a household name, but it was in 1841 that the first detective story ever made was published in Lady's and Gentleman's Magazine. This story, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, is said to have influenced Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective series Sherlock Holmes.
But Conan Doyle wasn't the only one who Poe inspired. It is widely known that Poe's penned The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym was considered to be the inspiration for Herman Melville's story of the great white whale Moby Dick. His work has lead him to be considered today to be the Master of Macabre, a Pioneer of Science Fiction, and a Father of the Detective Story.
Edgar Allan Poe's life was plagued with misfortune, as was adamant in his works. From the death of his parents and his first wife (second-cousin whom he married at the age of 13) to his surmountable gambling debt and alcoholism, Poe's tales captured the imagination as a morbid, mysterious figure lurking like a vampire in the shadows of moonlit cemeteries. And while this vampiric Poe is a legend, he was simply a man with a literary career and a way with words.
He died on October 7, 1849 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Photo by Mister Sam