On January 19th 1809 American author, poet, editor, and literary critic Edgar Allan Poe was born. considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story, and is generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre. He is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.
Born in Boston, Poe was the second child of two actors. His father abandoned the family in 1810, and his mother died the following year. Thus orphaned, the child was taken in by John and Frances Allan, of Richmond, Virginia. Although they never formally adopted him, Poe was with them well into young adulthood. Tension developed later as John Allan and Edgar repeatedly clashed over debts, including those incurred by gambling, and the cost of secondary education for the young man. Poe attended the University of Virginia for one semester but left due to lack of money. Poe quarreled with Allan over the funds for his education and enlisted in the Army in 1827 under an assumed name. It was at this time his publishing career began, albeit humbly, with an anonymous collection of poems, Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827), credited only to "a Bostonian". With the death of Frances Allan in 1829, Poe and Allan reached a temporary rapprochement. Later failing as an officer's cadet at West Point and declaring a firm wish to be a poet and writer, Poe parted ways with John Allan.
Poe switched his focus to prose and spent the next several years working for literary journals and periodicals, becoming known for his own style of literary criticism. His work forced him to move among several cities, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City. In Baltimore in 1835, he married Virginia Clemm, his 13-year-old cousin. In January 1845 Poe published his poem, "The Raven", to instant success. His wife died of tuberculosis two years after its publication. For years, he had been planning to produce his own journal, The Penn (later renamed The Stylus), though he died before it could be produced. On October 7, 1849, at age 40, Poe died in Baltimore; the cause of his death is unknown and has been variously attributed to alcohol, brain congestion, cholera, drugs, heart disease, rabies, suicide, tuberculosis, and other agents.
Poe and his works influenced literature in the United States and around the world, as well as in specialized fields, such as cosmology and cryptography. Poe and his work appear throughout popular culture in literature, music, films, and television. A number of his homes are dedicated museums today. The Mystery Writers of America present an annual award known as the Edgar Award for distinguished work in the mystery genre.
In 1842 he wrote "The Masque of the Red Death", originally published as "The Mask of the Red Death: A Fantasy", a short story that follows Prince Prospero's attempts to avoid a dangerous plague known as the Red Death by hiding in his abbey. He, along with many other wealthy nobles, has a masquerade ball within seven rooms of his abbey, each decorated with a different color. In the midst of their revelry, a mysterious figure disguised as a Red Death victim enters and makes his way through each of the rooms. Prospero dies after confronting this stranger, whose "costume" proves to have nothing tangible inside it; the guests also die in turn.
The story follows many traditions of Gothic fiction and is often analyzed as an allegory about the inevitability of death, though some critics advise against an allegorical reading. Many different interpretations have been presented, as well as attempts to identify the true nature of the titular disease. The story was first published in May 1842 in Graham's Magazine.
It has since been adapted in many different forms, including the 1964 film starring Vincent Price, Jane Asher and Hazel Court, directed by Roger Corman. Also incorporates a sub-plot based on another Poe tale, Hop-Frog. Another sub-plot is drawn from Torture by Hope by Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam.
In it, Jane Asher plays the role of Francesca, a virginal peasant girl who is abducted by Prince Prospero (Vincent Price) as a passing fancy to corrupt and convert to his satanic ways. To staunch any rebellious impulses, he holds her fiancé (David Weston) and her father (Nigel Green) as amusements in his dungeon.
Photos 1, 7, 16, 20, 27, 34, 42 & 43 - From internet. If any are yours, drop me a line and I will give you full credit.
Photos 2 & 28 - From Sentimentalist's It's Only Love - Beatlegirls website.
Photos 3 & 4, 6, 8 to 14, 18 & 19, 21, 24 to 26, 29 to 33, 35, 37 & 38, 40 & 41, and 44 - Ebay auction listings.
Photo 5 - Mersey Beat. Jane and Paul: A Love Story.
Photos 15, 17, 23 & 36 - From the much missed 'Cup Full of Asher' website,
Photo 22 - Alamy.
Photo 39 - AllPosters.