Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Throughout January, the world is Edgar Allan Poe's stage, 200 years after his birth on Jan. 19, 1809, and more than a century and a half after his mysterious demise in a Baltimore gutter. He's credited as the founding father of detective fiction, a master of the macabre, the namesake inspiration for the mystery world's premier annual award, and perhaps the first proper full-time freelance writer. This second son of an acting couple might well feel a mix of puffed-up pride and mystification at the celebratory atmosphere if he were alive to witness it. He spent most of his life cobbling together a living out of the scraps of poetic and prose publication, sporadically climbing the mountain of literary acclaim (as with "The Raven" in 1845) only to plunge anew into penury, a state he remained in until his death.