• Karen Lee Street

Born on this day, 1809 in Boston


EDGAR ALLAN POE

author and critic, is renowned for his psychological horror tales and credited with originating the detective genre and writing early science fiction.

Poe has also inspired a number of writers, some in unexpected ways.

For example, T. H. White, author of The Once and Future King, had a goshawk that he called 'Edgar Allan Poe' for a time. (Why is not clear.)

In one of his books, American President Theodore Roosevelt wrote that the Dakota Badlands, with their eerie land formations and coal seams that are sometimes ignited by lightning, look the way the poems of Edgar Allen Poe sound.

Arthur Conan Doyle admitted that Sherlock Holmes was derived from C. Auguste Dupin and Jules Verne wrote a sequel to Poe's (only) novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym entitled An Antarctic Mystery.

Robert Louis Stevenson acknowledged the influence of "The Gold-Bug" on his novel Treasure Island with: "I broke into the gallery of Mr. Poe... No doubt the skeleton [in my novel] is conveyed from Poe."

"Poe was the first writer to write about main characters who were bad guys or who were mad guys, and those are some of my favorite stories." (Stephen King)

Filmmakers have also been inspired by Poe, including Hitchcock, Truffaut, and Clouzot:

"At sixteen I discovered the work of Edgar Allan Poe. I happened to read first his biography, and the sadness of his life made a great impression on me. I felt an enormous pity for him, because in spite of his talent he had never been happy." "When I came home from the office where I worked I went straight to my room, took the cheap edition of his Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, and began to read. I still remember my feelings when I finished "The Murders in the Rue Morgue." I was afraid, but this fear made me discover something I've never forgotten since: fear, you see, is an emotion people like to feel when they know they're safe." (Alfred Hitchcock)

Francois Truffaut suggests that "Hitchcock belongs...among such artists of anxiety as Kafka, Dostoyevsky, and Poe."

In Henri-Georges Clouzot's film Le Corbeau (1943) villagers in a small French town are tormented by anonymous letters that threaten to expose their crimes. The letters are signed by Le Corbeau, referencing Poe's renowned poem.

A number of artists have illustrated Poe's works and Poe himself.

The images on this page are by Edward McKnight Kauffer and found in The Complete Poems and Stories of Edgar Allan Poe. (Knopf, 1946)

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© 2016 by Karen Lee Street