Edgar Allen Poe's 200th Birthday

As a kid, I used to hitchhike to the Uptown Theater in Louisville to watch Saturday showings of B movies based on the Gothic tales of Edgar Allen Poe. I’ve never been a fan of the horror genre, but I loved Poe from the moment my older brother introduced me to “The Raven.” How could anyone possibly be more morose than me? In Poe’s case, he seemed to seek it out. And I hate that photograph in which he looks like Charlie Chaplin playing Hitler. But Poe’s not to blame for that---only for drinking himself to death at age 40. Award-winning British writer Peter Ackroyd, who wrote a massive “biography” of the city of London, has a modest-sized new book titled Poe: A Life Cut Short. I enjoyed reading Ackroyd’s analysis of Poe’s morbid short stories and popular poems. Poe is credited with developing the sound poem and the detective novel. There’s even an annual awards competition for mystery writers. Winners are awarded trophies called “Edgars.”

- Bob

Here is a website focusing on Virginia's plans to mark Poe's 200th birthday.

Click here for an article about Poe and for a comprehensive list of celebrations scheduled for several cities.


(A post script from Bob...or "Mo on Poe")

I wrote my little blog post on the 200th birthday of Edgar Allen Poe, then went home and read a story in the current issue of the New Yorkermagazine and learned about one more wonderful thing we owe to the over-achieving literary sot.   Poe wrote a story called "The Gold Bug."   Set on Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, the story is about Captain Kidd and deciphering a code in order to find the pirate's buried treasure.  The story was published in a Philadelphia newspaper in 1843.   Eighty-eight years later in New York, Alfred Mosher Butts was laid off from his architectural firm.  It's 1931 and a lot of people are losing their jobs in The Great Depression.  With time on his hands, Butts read Poe's "The Gold Bug" and its code deciphering---and was inspired to invent a word game he called Lexiko.  He later changed its name to Criss-Cross Words and sold it by mail-order out of his living room.  Later he formed a partnership with a businessman who took the game to the big leagues under its present name--Scrabble--which is one more of my many addictions.  I thank New Yorker staff writer Judith Thurman for her delightful article on Scrabble in the January 19th edition.   What a hoot to find that Poe's influences extend far beyond the worlds of great literature, detective novels and sound poetry!   We can thank Edgar Allen Poe for Scrabble---a game at which I'm sure he'd excel.  Thanks Eddie!   (And according to Peter Ackroyd's new book, Poe: A Life Cut Short, "Eddie" is indeed what his wife and mother-in-law called him.)