Author Poe lives on through this literary postcard

Michael Bushnell
Northeast News

This Halloween, we depart from our traditional jack-o-lantern or witching-style postcard and offer this literary postcard published by the Webb Freyschlag Company of Kansas City.

The card is one of a series featuring American poets such as Eugene Field, Walt Whitman, and of course, probably the genre’s most tortured writer, Edgar Allen Poe.

Known today as the master of the macabre, Poe was also well known as the originator of the “true” detective story.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts in January 1809, his father, David Poe Jr., died a year later in 1810. Poe’s mother, Elizabeth Hopkins Poe, died in 1811.

Young Edgar was taken into the home of a Richmond, Virginia merchant, John Allen, whose name Poe would later take as his middle name.

At six, Poe was shipped off to England where he attended school. In the early 1820s, Poe returned to the United States and attended the University of Virginia from 1826 to 1827, but was expelled for not paying mounting gambling debts.

In 1826, Poe became engaged to Elmira Royster, but her parents broke off the engagement.

Poe then enlisted in the Army, eventually heading off to West Point.

He was dishonorably discharged within a year, however, for intentional dereliction of duty.

In 1836, the 27-year-old Poe married his 13-year-old cousin Virginia Clemm. Tragically, she suffered a debilitating stroke in 1842 and remained a virtual invalid until her death from tuberculosis five years later.

Following Virginia’s death, Poe began to lose his struggle with drinking and drugs. He had several romances during that time and once again proposed to Elmira Royster in 1849.

At that time, however, Royster was married to another man, Shelton.

Poe suffered from frequent bouts of depression and madness and attempted suicide in 1848.

In September the following year, he disappeared for three days after a drink at a birthday party while on his way to visit his new fiancée in Richmond.

He turned up in a Baltimore gutter and died later that day on October 7, 1849.

The verse on the front of this week’s postcard is excerpted from a poem entitled “To One in Paradise,” penned by Poe in 1845 and dedicated to his late wife Virginia.

Some of Poe’s best known works were reproduced in the 1960s by Hollywood, including House of Usher, The Cask of Amontillado, and The Masque of the Red Death by typecast horror star Vincent Price.

Other Poe lyrics were reproduced by the Alan Parsons Project in their 1976 debut album “Tales of Mystery and Imagination.”

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