Knowing Poe: The Literature, Life and Times of Edgar Allan Poe... In Baltimore and Beyond



Maryland Public Television
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Poe In Your Life
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Random Raven

Did you know that . . .

  • Baltimore writer Laura Lippman's 2001 novel In a Strange City is a murder-mystery set in modern-day Baltimore. It explores a plot to unmask the Poe Toaster, the shadowy figure who visits Poe's grave every year on the anniversary of the writer's birthday.

  • If you've heard Blues Traveler's song "Run-Around" (released in 1994), you've heard Poe alive and well in modern pop music. The song begins with the line "Once upon a midnight, dearie,"- which is very similar to the first line of Poe's "The Raven:" "Once upon a midnight dreary . . ." The tune proceeds to describe the singer's longing for a woman who has left him, just as Poe pined for his lost Lenore.

  • Heavy metal band Iron Maiden included the song "Murders in the Rue Morgue" — the title of one of Poe's best-known stories — on their 1981 album "Killers."

  • At least 81 films have been based on works by Edgar Allen Poe — and many of them are about the same stories. There have been ten versions of "The Tell-Tale Heart", and nine of "The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," and "The Black Cat."

  • In 1999 The Hollywood Reporter reported that singer Michael Jackson was slated to star as Poe in a feature film to be called "The Nightmare of Edgar Allan Poe." The status of that film project remains unclear, but it seems even the King of Pop wants to pay tribute to Poe.

  • Many television shows have borrowed plot lines or images from Poe, including the spooky 1960s soap opera "Dark Shadows," the comedy series "The Munsters," "Homicide," the 1990s police show set in Baltimore, and perhaps most famous of all, the animated hit "The Simpsons." During a second season Simpsons episode, James Earl Jones read part of "The Raven" while Homer as the narrator and Bart as the raven acted out the poem. You can read the script for the show here.

  • In December, 1999, the web search engine Lycos announced the "Millennium's Most Wanted." It was a list of the most popular searches for historical figures that people completed on Lycos that year. Edgar Allan Poe was #4 on the list, immediately following Adolph Hitler and just before Joan of Arc. (Shakespeare was #1 on the list). Take a look at the list.

  • In 1945, the Mystery Writers of America, Inc. established an award to recognize outstanding contributions to various categories of mystery, crime and suspense writing. These awards are known as The Edgar Allan Poe Awards. The statuette that winners receive is called an Edgar.

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