Tuesday, July 26

Once upon a midnight dreary

I am intrigued by a Moving Picture scheduled to be released on March 9, 2012 called, The Raven. In it Edgar Allan Poe is challenged by a serial killer to solve a series of murders based upon his stories and focuses on the mysterious last days of Poe's life.

Did you know Poe lived in Philadelphia, which at the time boasted many publishers, beginning in either 1837 or 1838?

Poe had already sold a few stories to The Philadelphia Saturday Courier, six years before his arrival. He now hoped to work for a magazine which would provide him both stability and economic independence. 

The many stories he wrote while living in Philadelphia include:

  • The Black Cat 
  • The Cask of Amontillado 
  • A Descent into the Maelstrom
  • The Gold-Bug
  • The Fall of the House of Usher 
  • The Man of the Crowd 
  • The Masque of the Red Death
  • Murders in the Rue Morgue 
  • The Oval Portrait
  • The Pit and the Pendulum 
  • The Purloined Letter 
  • The Tell-Tale Heart
  • William Wilson

He was also likely to have started The Raven while living in Philadelphia!

John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe.

A surprising (at least to Me) Philadelphia outlet for Poe's writing was Godey's Lady's Book (!) edited by Sarah Josepha Hale. Hale is usually remembered for writing Mary Had a Little Lamb, but she had an eye for writers and Godey's paid well. One of Poe's earliest short stories, The Visionary (or The Assignation), was printed in Godey's in 1834.

Godey's also published several other Poe works: A Tale of the Ragged Mountains (April 1844), The Oblong Box (September 1844), and Thou Art the Man (November 1844). The Cask of Amontillado was published exclusively in Godey's Lady's Book in 1846.

Poe lived in several homes in Philadelphia, spending his last 12 to 18 months there at a rented house on North 7th Street which is the only one which still survives. (The National Park Service has maintained it as a National Historic Site since 1980.) Poe, his wife Virginia, his mother-in-law and their cat moved in sometime in 1842 or 1843 and left in April 1844.

Poe's time in Philadelphia has been called his most prolific period since he published 31 stories while living there. It has also been described as the happiest of his life.

Once Poe left Philadelphia on April 6, 1844 for New York, his life spiraled out of control. His wife died Jan. 30, 1847 in New York and he died Oct. 7, 1849 in Maryland.

He was 40.

And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!

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