Edgar Allen Poe
Edgar Allen Poe
Airdate April 7, 2012
Curriculum Social Studies

Edgar Allen Poe is an episode of BrainPOP launched on April 7, 2012.


Moby's head appears on a fake gravestone and Tim begins reciting Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven, but it appears Moby had fooled him and he puts his head back on his shoulders. A raven flies down from the gravestone, and Tim answers a letter about Edgar Allen Poe himself. After he finishes, Moby pops his head off again, but his hands catch it. Tim then quips, "Nevermore, Moby, nevermore."





Myths Edit


When we think of Edgar Allan Poe, we imagine a mysterious figure cloaked in darkness, someone who mirrored the madmen and misfits from his own stories. This is the image of Poe that exists in popular culture to this day.

In reality, Poe was nowhere near as dark and twisted as most people think. So where did the wicked Poe of legend come from? As it turns out, he was the creation of Rufus Griswold, a rival who set out to destroy Poe’s reputation after his death!

Griswold was an editor who published a collection of American poetry that included several of Poe’s poems. At first, their relationship was polite. But when Poe admitted that he didn’t like the anthology, the relationship turned cold. Over the next few years, Poe used his public lectures to attack Griswold, and the two men even competed for the affections of female poet Frances Sargent Osgood!

After Poe’s death, Griswold wanted revenge. He wrote an obituary that stated that Poe wouldn’t be missed because he had few friends. The obituary also claimed that Poe often wandered the streets like a madman, and that he was angry and jealous of others.

Griswold’s goal was to ruin Poe’s reputation, and he didn’t stop there. He also wrote a biography of Poe that made him look like an alcoholic and a drug addict. He even forged letters to use as proof! His wild claims stuck, and many later biographies of Poe included them as fact.

Ironically, Griswold’s efforts backfired. Although he succeeded in painting a picture of Poe as a creep, the public was fascinated by this evil genius. His works became more popular than ever, and his name lives on, while Griswold’s has been all but forgotten!

Unsolved Mysteries Edit


On the page, Edgar Allan Poe was no stranger to unnatural deaths. His own demise, however, is even more mysterious than the fictional deaths in his tales!

On September 27, 1849, Poe left Richmond, Virginia on his way to New York. Then he disappeared for five days. On October 3, he showed up on the streets of Baltimore, stumbling around in a confused state and wearing clothes that weren’t his own. He was brought to the hospital, but he never regained his wits long enough to explain what happened to him. He died on October 7.

So what was the cause of death? Nobody knows for sure, and the hospital records from Poe’s stay have long since disappeared. Based on his condition at the time he was found, many medical explanations have been offered up, including cholera, epilepsy, heart disease, rabies, and tuberculosis.

One thing seems clear: Poe wasn’t drunk at the time! Contrary to popular belief, Poe was not an alcoholic or drug addict. And according to first-person reports from people who saw him shortly after he was found in Baltimore, there were no traces of alcohol on his breath or his clothes, and no signs of a drug overdose.

One theory fits the facts and has gained popularity over the years: Poe may have been the victim of cooping. That was a voting scam in which people were kidnapped on election day, drugged, and brought to various polling places to vote over and over again for one candidate. The victims were often disguised in different clothes for each polling place, which would explain the clothes Poe was wearing. Plus, October 3 was an election day!

Regardless of the truth, the mystery of Poe’s death only added to the public fascination for his stories—both the fictional ones and his own.

Quotables Edit


“With me poetry has not been a purpose, but a passion.”

“I would define, in brief, the poetry of words as the rhythmical creation of Beauty.”

“Science has not yet taught us if madness is or is not the sublimity of the intelligence.”

“They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”

“Man’s real life is happy, chiefly because he is ever expecting that it soon will be so.”

“That man is not truly brave who is afraid either to seem or to be, when it suits him, a coward.”

“The death of a beautiful woman is unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world.”

“There is an eloquence in true enthusiasm.”

“I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.”

Trivia Edit

  • Edgar Allan Poe’s prolific writing career included 70 poems, 66 short stories, and one novel.
  • Many of Poe’s works have been adapted for film and television. Actor Vincent Price and director Roger Corman teamed up for six adaptations between 1960 and 1965, including movie versions of short stories like “The Pit and the Pendulum” and “The Masque of the Red Death,” as well as the poem “The Raven.”
  • Poe was born Edgar Poe. The “Allan” came from John and Frances Allan, a couple from Richmond, Virginia who raised Poe from the age of three (his father had abandoned the family, and his mother died shortly after that).
  • Believe it or not, the fear of being buried alive was a pretty common topic in 19th century literature! Several of Poe’s stories, including “The Cask of Amontillado,” feature immurement, a form of execution in which a person is sealed behind a wall and left to starve. Technically, this is different than the type of entrapment explored in his short story “The Premature Burial,” in which victims are buried in the ground and die of suffocation.
  • In 1844, Poe wrote a newspaper article about a man’s three-day journey across the Atlantic Ocean in a gas-powered balloon. Two days later, he revealed the story as a hoax! “The Balloon-Hoax” is considered an early contribution to the emerging genre of science fiction.
  • A mysterious visitor who became known as the Poe Toaster began a tradition in 1949. Early in the morning on Poe’s birthday, the Poe Toaster would arrive at the author’s grave in Baltimore and make a toast of cognac, leaving the rest of the bottle along with three roses. The tradition continued for 60 years. The Poe Toaster last visited in 2009, on Poe’s 200th birthday—and hasn’t been seen since!

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