Saturday, October 18, 2014

BLOGtober Fest: Edgar Allan Poe Edition

The "Old Stone House", home of the Poe Museum, is the oldest building in Richmond. While Poe is not known to have spent time in this building, he surely would have been aware of its existence.
Southern Literary Messenger (source: Wikipedia)
Who attended the University of Virginia but was kicked out for his gambling debts, resigned as a sergeant-major in the U.S. Army to write prose, then accepted a commission to the military academy at West Point only to get himself court-martialed and expelled? Why, Edgar Allan Poe of course! He has been described as “the Michelangelo of the macabre; the Haydn of horror; the Einstein of the ethereal; the Rembrandt of the repulsive; [and] the Tchaikovsky of Terror!”

Illustration from the Masque of the Red Death, 1919 (source: Wikipedia)
Poe spent much of his troubled youth in Richmond. Orphaned, Poe lived with his irascible stepfather John Allan—who it seemed Poe never got along with unless John forked over some money to pay for Poe’s perpetual debts. Also while living in river city, Poe became so distraught over the death of his friend’s mother that he took on an upstream “six-mile swim [in the] James River.” Some scholars believe that Poe was actually attempting to commit suicide by swimming against the James’ rapid current.

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (source: Wikipedia)
The master of horror fiction returned to Richmond many times as he traveled up and down the Eastern seaboard. It was in Richmond where Poe gained his first real literary job, as an editor at the Southern Literary Messenger. His job included writing, choosing stories, critiquing, and editing the prose of mid-19th century writers. Richmond was also the place where Poe met his first true love, Elmira Royster Shelton, though her father made Poe discontinue their engagement because he despised Poe’s devilish ways. Right before Poe’s death in 1849, Elmira and Poe rekindled their love—though it was alleged that her children also disapproved of the eccentric writer, and preferred if their mother kept her distance from him.

1849 "Annie" daguerreotype of Poe (source: Wikipedia)
In honor of Edgar Allan Poe, the Richmond Public Library will be hosting Poe to Go on Oct. 22 at 6 pm at the Belmont Branch. The event will be put on by the Poe Museum and is free to the public—though registration is recommended. There will be a mock trial that the public will have weigh in on in accordance to the beating heart in “The Tell-Tale Heart.” We will also play a short film that will showcase one of Poe’s more ghoulish tales. This event has been approved for teens & adults—so come out for night of horror & terror at the Belmont library, we will also be raffling off a hardback collection of Poe’s works at the event (the raffle is free!) so you won’t want to miss this ghastly event!

Thanks to guest blogger Gavin, Belmont Library

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