Happy Birthday Edgar Allan Poe

209 years ago, Edgar Allan Poe, Master of the Dark and Gloomy, was born. Poe was originally born to travelling actors, but they died when he was only three. He was taken in by John and Frances Allan, but despite giving him their name, they never officially adopted him.

Poe’s life was a Gothic tale in its own right. His relationship with his foster father was affection mixed with resentment, and the two often fought. John did not support Poe’s want to attend college, but Poe attended the University of Virginia anyway. The quality of his life deteriorated quickly. He had no money and turned to gambling, but he only acquired debts he could not pay.

Poe eventually dropped out of college and joined the military. He served for two years, rising to the rank of Sergeant Major, but then tried to end his enlistment early so he could attend West Point. In 1829, before entering West Point, Poe stayed with his aunt and cousin Virginia Clemm.

By 1829, Poe published two collections of poetry, but they garnered little attention. His alcoholism continued to worsen, and he could not support himself on writing alone. He left West Point, purposely getting court-martialed, and returned to his aunt’s. In 1836, he married Virginia, but by 1842, she contracted tuberculosis.

Virginia’s illness and death undoubtedly contributed to Poe’s Gothic creativity. He published “The Raven” in 1845. It left an unrivaled mark on the literary world, making Poe a household name, but Poe died only four years later. The cause of his death is still unknown.

Poe’s works are a twisted example of the real horrors his life held. It is easy to find Poe in his works, the real person among the characters. He is revered today, stories like “The Raven” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” recited yearly for crowds across the world. Though there is more biography within than Poe likely intended, the personable being so close to the stories’ horrors are why he’s still beloved today.

 

 

Books of Fright

Halloween has arrived, and what better way to get into the spooky spirit by reading scary books! Here are some stories that are sure to send shivers up your spine, and have you looking over your shoulder everywhere you go. Happy reading!

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow-Washington Irving

Ichabod is a teacher and choirmaster at the little town of Sleepy Hollow. When Ichabod woos a rich man’s daughter, he must lay low because Brom, who is also in love with the rich man’s daughter, is after him. When Ichabod is invited to a party, he comes across the Headless Horseman, and must flee, terrified for his life.

House of Leaves– Mark Z. Danielewski

In this maze of a book made up of unconventional format, such as unusual page layouts with some pages only containing a few words, House of Leaves tells the story of three family members: a blind old man, a young apprentice at a tattoo shop, and a crazy woman. The family faces unexplainable changes in their home, and eventually come face to face with the darkness at its core.

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary– M.R. James

This collection of eight short stories captures the suspense and horror which defines good ghost stories. The wit and erudition of these eight classics keeps the reader on their toes, and teaches them be wary of every creak in the night. After all, you can never be sure about what lurks behind you.

Dracula– Bram Stoker

Jonathan Harker, a London lawyer, travels to Transylvania to help Count Dracula purchase an estate in England. Initially impressed by Dracula’s politeness, Harker is soon wary of Dracula’s ability to communicate to wolves in his huge castle. He quickly realizes he is a prisoner in Dracula’s castle, and must find a way to survive this demonic creature of the night.

The Shining– Stephen King

Jack Torrance is hired as a caretaker at the Overlook Hotel, eager for a fresh start, and ready to reconnect with his family and work on his writing. As winter begins to set in, the Overlook Hotel grows more sinister. Danny Torrance, Jack’s five-year-old son, is the only one to notice as the hotel’s horrific past begins to consume them all.

The Tell-Tale Heart– Edgar Allen Poe

This story is told through a nameless, mysterious narrator, who does not sound half as sane as he claims. As we hear about the murder he had committed, there is a beating that grows louder and louder, echoing in the mind. It’s the still-beating heart of the victim under the floorboards, where our nameless narrator buried the dismembered body.

Coraline– Neil Gaiman

When her family moved into their new home, Coraline Jones knew things were weird. But weird doesn’t describe a mysterious door with a brick wall behind it. Weird definitely doesn’t describe the mysterious tunnel that takes its place. When Coraline goes through, she finds herself in another house, one just like her own. But this perfect world is hiding something dark and sinister, and Coraline might be too late to stop it.

A Stranger in the House– Shari Lapena

Newlyweds Karen and Tom Krupp happily live in upstate New York, but one day, Karen gets into an accident and loses her memory. When they return home, Karen notices things in the house have been moved. Nothing is quite right, and she realizes someone’s been in the house. This psychological thriller makes you doubt everything you know about your own life.

The Night Circus– Erin Morgenstern

This circus appears with no warning; no announcements or advertisements to display it, and it disappears as quickly as it comes. Only open at night, the circus tents hold amazing sights within, but the Night Circus holds a dark secret., and the performers must pay the price.

Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep– Jack Prelutshy

Instead of bedtime stories, read a dozen horrific poems to keep you up at night. Ranging vampires to ghouls, these poems cover a variety of creepy stories that will scare even the bravest individual.