It was my pleasure to cover a birthday party for Edgar Allan Poe at Warren County Middle School on Thursday.
With my love of horror movies and detective shows, it only makes sense I like Poe. His works inspired so much of what I enjoy today. He’s known as the father of both the horror genre and detective fiction with his short stories.
As I always do, I reacquainted myself with the subject matter before I went to the party. We studied Poe in school but that was a year or two ago. I read “The Raven” and “Annabel Lee” and a few biographies. When it comes to Poe, the information differs somewhat so it is important for a person to read more than one and read between the lines somewhat. Some aspects of Poe’s life, like his literature, is shrouded in mystery, and the lines between fact and fiction have been blurred substantially since his death. After saying that, I encourage you to do your own research and not just take my word for anything. I wasn’t there. I’m old, but I’m not that old.
Poe was a complicated, creepy, mysterious person with somewhat of a checkered life filled with misfortune. His works were a living testament to that. Only a tortured soul could write something like “The Raven” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.”
Poe was, by all accounts that I’ve read, a very intelligent individual. However, it seemed he was doomed to misery. His parents died when he was very young. Relatives raised him, but the relationship was strained. His childhood love interest married someone else. He eventually married his young cousin.
Speaking of the cousin, I found one biography that put Virginia’s age at 13 and another one that said she was 14. Either way, he was in his late 20s. I found that disturbing. One biography said he secretly married her. I’m not sure about that. At that time, I don’t think anyone really cared. Men marrying much younger women was pretty common. Maybe the writer was putting his own two cents into that biography, but I can’t be positive. Secret or not, it happened.
Virginia died in 1847. While one biography said Poe’s lifelong struggle with depression and alcoholism worsened at that point, another one said he struggled with poor health and struggled financially after her death. Maybe it was a combination of all four, because he died two years later. He was found on Oct. 2, 1849, in a semi-conscious and delirious state and died of “acute congestion of the brain.”
His famous last words were said to be “Lord, help my poor soul.” That’s just sad, but it was a sad ending to a very sad life. Happiness seemed to allude him.
However, he became one of America’s most enduring writers. His works are read today and still inspire and shock. On Thursday, I attended his 208th birthday party. I should have eaten some cake and ice cream. Happy birthday, Poe.
Standard reporter Lisa Hobbs can be reached at 473-2191.