POE Road Trip

I’m on a Edgar Allan Poe inspired road trip down to Virginia and Washington DC. This morning, my intrepid friends from Woodbridge, Virginia, drove me down to Richmond to visit the Poe Museum. There was an amazing amount of Poe-phernalia, a lovely Poe-ish garden and an exhibit of James Carlings 1882 illustrations of ‘The Raven.’ The images were fantastic in every definition of the word.

fan·tas·tic  fan-tas-tik
conceived or appearing as if conceived by an unrestrained imagination; odd and remarkable; bizarre; grotesque: fantastic rock formations; fantastic designs.
fanciful or capricious, as persons or their ideas or actions: We never know what that fantastic creature will say next.
imaginary or groundless in not being based on reality; foolish or irrational: fantastic fears.
extravagantly fanciful; marvelous.
incredibly great or extreme; exorbitant: to spend fantastic sums of money.

Yes, the expensive definition applies because the wonderful James Carling book is long out of print and there’s very little hope of me finding a copy without a huge infusion of cash. Oh, well… I will have to pacify myself with a paperback of photos of Poe’s life, family and memorabilia in Richmond.

Did I learn anything about Edgar Allan Poe? Yes, definitely. Anything about monsters — I’m not sure, yet. Poe had a hard life and his conflicts with the conventions of his time and place made him an outsider from the start.

His parents were actors. His mother received great reviews, but his stuttering, line-dropping dad, was a failure on the stage and left his wife with three small children. When she died of TB at 24, her children were sent to three separate families. Edgar grew up in the home of a wealthy Richmond family.

He was in the family, but never truly a part of it — an outsider, growing accustomed to the trappings of a gentlemen without the means to maintain the lifestyle. He lived, never quite belonging, to the smart literary set in New York or the gentry in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Richmond. All the while, he was determined to make a living at writing!

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Lots to think about in Poe-land!


  1. Edgar Allan Poe is synonymous with horror stories in my mind yet I suddenly realised I had no memory of ever having /read/ any of his works. Googled him and discovered that The House of Usher and Murders at the Rue Morgue rang a bell after all. Phew! Will be interested to find out what you discover about him.

    • Candy

      Some of what I learned is going into the Poe book, but I’m not yet sure how it all fits together. Poe’s life was also very compelling. He was, in a lot of ways, a man not-of-his-time. When you start to read the not-so-famous stories, and ignore the funny old Vincent Price movies, it’s hard to ignore his ups & downs, obsessions and literary adventures. He is often credited with inventing the modern detective story and, at the museum, he’s credited with starting the American interest in fantasy and science fiction. They also insist he didn’t really have a drinking problem, but that he had a very low tolerance and got drunk, and sick, on practically no booze at a time when drinking a lot was the norm. Umm.. not so sure, but…

  2. Beth M.

    I agree that Poe’s life’s stories are just as compelling as his written works. From his marriage to his 13yr old cousin Virginia, his military career including West Point, the repeated loss of women in his life, to some of his stories that many believe he actually committed the hideous crimes himself – who else would have some intimate knowledge of these cases that even the detectives do not? Many people considered Poe to be “evil” but to me the biggest monster(s) in Poe’s life, besides himself, ended up being the ones who wanted to somehow destroy him both in life and afterlife. Take “Ludwig” aka Griswold for example a rival who not only tried to destroy Poe’s reputation but stole some of his works. I think incorporating some of Poe’s life/works into a character would be very challenging but oh so interesting – remember truth is stranger than fiction.

    • Candy

      Poe was a bit monstrous when he took on the role of literary critic. Yes, he was said to hate EVERYBODY’s work.

      He was also a bit more than a flirt and got banned from a popular literary salon because too many married women were found to be his pen pals. I wonder what he wrote back to them?

      Truth…. really does have a way of trumping fiction.

  3. I’m not into your genre, but I do like your writing style. One thing i have learned by coming onto the forums, is that I should widen my reading niches. I have been pleasantly surprised by some of the stuff i thought i would never read. Good writing and an interesting story line is important and enjoyable whatever the genre.
    well done

    • Candy

      I agree. I’ve read more romance, true crime, straight out horror, etc. since I’ve begun to meander around the various writer/reader forums and it’s been a very interesting ride. Good writing always take the lead. Along with plot, characters and that elusive something that brings it all together… they mystery of a good story.