The Tell-Tale Heart
- "'Villains!' I shrieked, 'dissemble no more! I admit the deed! —tear up the planks! here, here! —It is the beating of his hideous heart!'"
- "While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, 'tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.'"
“Master of the Macabre,” the American Edgar Allan Poe churned out atmospheric poems and tales of mystery and horror. Fitting, as his own life was full of both.
The son of actors, born in January 1809, young Edgar never got to know them … his father left when he was an infant and his mother died when he was three years old. Separated from his siblings, the boy was sent to live with John and Francis Allen, a successful tobacco merchant and his wife living in Richmond. Never close with John – perhaps because he scribbled poems on the back of the man’s business papers – Edgar eventually entered the University of Virginia in 1826.
Poe harbored conflicting desires – writing and soldiering. He published his first collection of poems in 1827, and joined the army the same year. He won a spot at West Point in 1830, but was kicked out after a year for his (poor) handling of his duties. Leaving the academy, Poe focused on his other passion, living as a starving author in New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, and at last Baltimore, where he lodged with his aunt Maria and married his cousin Virginia when she was but 13 years old.
In the late 1830s he published his first collection of short stories, 'Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque;' the title says it all, and it was a modest success. A talent on the rise, in 1843 Edgar won a literary prize for “The Gold Bug,” one of his stories that helped launch a new genre: detective fiction. He became a household name in 1845 with the publication of his poem "The Raven." But Poe was overcome with grief at the death of his beloved Virginia in 1847. His own death – under somewhat mysterious circumstances – followed in October 1849.