Monday, January 31, 2011

Edgar Allan Poe Reads "The Conqueror Worm" - Poetry Animations

"The Conqueror Worm" Published 1843

Lo! 'tis a gala night
Within the lonesome latter years!
An angel throng, bewinged, bedight
In veils, and drowned in tears,
Sit in a theatre, to see
A play of hopes and fears,
While the orchestra breathes fitfully
The music of the spheres.

Mimes, in the form of God on high,
Mutter and mumble low,
And hither and thither fly-
Mere puppets they, who come and go
At bidding of vast formless things
That shift the scenery to and fro,
Flapping from out their Condor wings
Invisible Woe!

That motley drama- oh, be sure
It shall not be forgot!
With its Phantom chased for evermore,
By a crowd that seize it not,
Through a circle that ever returneth in
To the self-same spot,
And much of Madness, and more of Sin,
And Horror the soul of the plot.

But see, amid the mimic rout
A crawling shape intrude!
A blood-red thing that writhes from out
The scenic solitude!
It writhes!- it writhes!- with mortal pangs
The mimes become its food,
And seraphs sob at vermin fangs
In human gore imbued.

Out- out are the lights- out all!
And, over each quivering form,
The curtain, a funeral pall,
Comes down with the rush of a storm,
While the angels, all pallid and wan,
Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, "Man,"
And its hero the Conqueror Worm.

"The Conqueror Worm" is a poem by Edgar Allan Poe about human mortality and the inevitability of death. It was first published separately in Graham's Magazine in January 1843, but quickly became associated with Poe's short story "Ligeia" after Poe added the poem to a revised publication of the story in 1845. In the revised story, the poem is composed by the eponymous Ligeia, and taught to the narrator in the fits of her death throes.


An audience of weeping angels watches a play performed by "mimes, in the form of God on high," and controlled by vast formless shapes looming behind the scenes. The mimes chase a "Phantom" which they can never capture, running around in circles. Finally, a monstrous "crawling shape" emerges, and eats the mimes. The final curtain comes down, "a funeral pall," signaling an end to the "tragedy, 'Man'" whose only hero is "The Conqueror Worm."


Poe's mother and father were both actors, and the poem uses theater metaphors throughout to deal with human life on a universal level.

The poem seems to imply that human life is mad folly ending in hideous death, the universe is controlled by dark forces man cannot understand, and the only supernatural forces that might help are powerless spectators who can only affirm the tragedy of the scene.

Though Poe was referring to an ancient connection between worms and death, he may have been inspired by "The Proud Ladye," a poem by Spencer Wallis Cone which was reviewed in an 1840 issue of Burton's Gentleman's Magazine. That poem contained the lines "Let him meet the conqueror worm / With his good sword by his side."[1]

Role in "Ligeia"

The poem plays an important symbolic role as part of its inclusion in the short story "Ligeia." The poem is written by Ligeia as she is dying, though it is actually recited by the narrator, her husband.

Because it emphasizes the finality of death, it calls to question Ligeia's resurrection in the story. Also, the inclusion of the bitter poem may have been meant to be ironic or a parody of the convention at the time, both in literature and in life. In the mid-19th century it was common to emphasize the sacredness of death and the beauty of dying (consider Charles Dickens's Little Johnny character in Our Mutual Friend and the death of Helen Burns in Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre). Instead, Ligeia speaks of fear personified in the "blood-red thing."[2]

"The Conqueror Worm" also uses the word "evermore," which would later evolve into "nevermore" in Poe's famous poem "The Raven" in 1845.[3]

Publication history

"The Conqueror Worm" was first published as a stand-alone poem in the January 1843 issue of Graham's Magazine.[4] Shortly after, it was included among several other poems by Poe in the February 25 issue of the Saturday Museum in a feature called "The Poets & Poetry of Philadelphia: Edgar Allan Poe."[5] It was later included in Poe's poetry collection The Raven and Other Poems in 1845.[4] That same year, it was incorporated into "Ligeia" for the first time when the story was reprinted in the February 15, 1845, issue of the New York World.[6] "Ligeia" was again republished with "The Conqueror Worm" in the September 27, 1845, issue of The Broadway Journal while Poe was its editor.[7] This was not unusual for Poe, who had also incorporated poems "The Coliseum" and "To One in Paradise" into tales.[8]


In 1935, Baltimore-born composer Franz Bornschein wrote a three-part chorus for women with orchestra or piano accompaniment based on "The Conqueror Worm."[9] The poem was also rewritten and adapted as the first track to Lou Reed's 2003 album of Poe adaptations and Poe-inspired songs, The Raven. It was also adapted as a song by the Darkwave act, Sopor Aeternus & the Ensemble of Shadows on the album Flowers in Formaldehyde in 2004. Vol. 5 of the Hellboy comic book mini-series by Mike Mignola titled Hellboy: Conqueror Worm was based on the poem.

The British horror film Witchfinder General was retitled The Conqueror Worm for U.S. release, but was not actually based on Poe's poem.


1.^ Quinn, Arthur Hobson. Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998: 391. ISBN 0801857309
2.^ Kennedy, J. Gerald. Poe, Death, and the Life of Writing. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1987: 1–2. ISBN 0300037732
3.^ Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. Cooper Square Press, 1992: 163. ISBN 0-8154-1038-7
4.^ Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. New York: Checkmark Books, 2001: 56. ISBN 081604161X
5.^ Thomas, Dwight and David K. Jackson. The Poe Log: A Documentary Life of Edgar Allan Poe, 1809–1849. Boston: G. K. Hall and Co., 1987: 398. ISBN 0816187347
6.^ Thomas, Dwight and David K. Jackson. The Poe Log: A Documentary Life of Edgar Allan Poe, 1809–1849. Boston: G. K. Hall and Co., 1987: 502. ISBN 0816187347
7.^ Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. New York: Checkmark Books, 2001: 134. ISBN 081604161X
8.^ Peeples, Scott. Edgar Allan Poe Revisited. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1998: 31. ISBN 0-8057-4572-6
9.^ Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. New York: Checkmark Books, 2001: 32. ISBN 081604161X

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Deathday: Poe's Wife Virgina Poe 1847

Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe (née Clemm; August 15, 1822 – January 30, 1847) was the wife of American writer Edgar Allan Poe. The couple were first cousins and married when Virginia Clemm was 13 and Poe was 24. Some biographers have suggested that the couple's relationship was more like that between brother and sister than like husband and wife in that they might have never consummated their marriage. In January 1842 she contracted tuberculosis and died of the disease in January 1847 at the age of 24 in the family's cottage outside New York City.

Along with other family members, Virginia Clemm and Edgar Allan Poe lived together off and on for several years before their marriage. The couple often moved to accommodate Poe's employment, living intermittently in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. A few years after their wedding, Poe was involved in a substantial scandal involving Frances Sargent Osgood and Elizabeth F. Ellet. Rumors about amorous improprieties on her husband's part affected Virginia Poe so much that on her deathbed she claimed that Ellet had murdered her. After her death, her body was eventually placed under the same memorial marker as her husband's in Westminster Hall and Burying Ground in Baltimore, Maryland. Only one image of Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe has been authenticated: a watercolor portrait painted several hours after her death.

The disease and eventual death of his wife had a substantial effect on Edgar Allan Poe, who became despondent and turned to alcohol to cope. Her struggles with illness and death are believed to have affected his poetry and prose, where dying young women appear as a frequent motif, as in "Annabel Lee," "The Raven," and "Ligeia."


Early life

Virginia Eliza Clemm was born on August 15, 1822[1] and named after an older sister who had died as an infant[2] only ten days earlier.[3] Her father William Clemm, Jr. was a hardware merchant in Baltimore.[4] He had married Maria Poe, Virginia's mother, on July 12, 1817,[5] after the death of his first wife, Maria's first cousin Harriet.[6] Clemm had five children from his previous marriage and went on to have three more with Maria.[4] After his death in 1826, he left very little to the family[7] and relatives offered no financial support because they had opposed the marriage.[4] Maria supported the family by sewing and taking in boarders, aided with an annual $240 pension granted to her mother Elizabeth Cairnes, who was paralyzed and bedridden.[7] Elizabeth received this pension on behalf of her late husband, "General" David Poe, a former quartermaster in Maryland who had loaned money to the state.[8]

Edgar Poe first met his cousin Virginia in August 1829, four months after his discharge from the Army. She was seven at the time.[9] In 1832, the family – made up of Elizabeth, Maria, Virginia, and Virginia's brother Henry,[9] – was able to use Elizabeth's pension to rent a home at what was then 3 North Amity Street in Baltimore.[10] Poe's older brother William Henry Leonard Poe, who had been living with the family,[9] had recently died on August 1, 1831.[11] Poe joined the household in 1833[12] and was soon smitten by a neighbor named Mary Devereaux. The young Virginia served as a messenger between the two, at one point retrieving a lock of Devereaux's hair to give to Poe.[13] Elizabeth Cairnes Poe died on July 7, 1835, effectively ending the family's income and making their financial situation even more difficult.[14] Henry died around this time, sometime before 1836, leaving Virginia as Maria Clemm's only surviving child.[15]

In August 1835, Poe left the destitute family behind and moved to Richmond, Virginia to take a job at the Southern Literary Messenger.[16] While Poe was away from Baltimore, another cousin, Neilson Poe, the husband of Virginia's half-sister Josephine Clemm,[17] heard that Edgar was considering marrying Virginia. Neilson offered to take her in and have her educated in an attempt to prevent the girl's marriage to Edgar at such a young age, though suggesting that the option could be reconsidered later.[18] Edgar called Neilson, the owner of a newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland, his "bitterest enemy" and interpreted his cousin's actions as an attempt at breaking his connection with Virginia.[19] On August 29, 1835,[19] Edgar wrote an emotional letter to Maria, declaring that he was "blinded with tears while writing,"[17] and pleading that she allow Virginia to make her own decision.[20] Encouraged by his employment at the Southern Literary Messenger, Poe offered to provide financially for Maria, Virginia and Henry if they moved to Richmond.[21]


Marriage plans were confirmed and Poe returned to Baltimore to file for a marriage license on September 22, 1835. The couple might have been quietly married as well, though accounts are unclear.[22] Their only public ceremony was in Richmond on May 16, 1836, when they were married by a Presbyterian minister named Rev. Amasa Converse.[23] Poe was 27 and Virginia was 13, though her age was listed as 21.[23] This marriage bond was filed in Richmond and included an affidavit from Thomas W. Cleland confirming the bride's alleged age.[24] The ceremony was held in the evening at the home of a Mrs. James Yarrington,[25] the owner of the boarding house in which Poe, Virginia, and Virginia's mother Maria Clemm were staying.[26] Yarrington helped Maria Clemm bake the wedding cake and prepared a wedding meal.[27] The couple then had a short honeymoon in Petersburg, Virginia.[25]

Debate has raged regarding how unusual this pairing was based on the couple's age and blood relationship. Noted Poe biographer Arthur Hobson Quinn argues it was not particularly unusual, nor was Poe's nicknaming his wife "Sissy" or "Sis."[28] Another Poe biographer, Kenneth Silverman, contends that though their first-cousin marriage was not unusual, her young age was.[22] It has been suggested that Clemm and Poe had a relationship more like that between brother and sister than between husband and wife.[29] Some scholars, including Marie Bonaparte, have read many of Poe's works as autobiographical and have concluded that Virginia died a virgin[30] because she and her husband never consummated their marriage.[31] This interpretation often assumes that Virginia is represented by the title character in the poem "Annabel Lee": a "maiden... by the name of Annabel Lee."[30] Poe biographer Joseph Wood Krutch suggests that Poe did not need women "in the way that normal men need them," but only as a source of inspiration and care,[32] and that Poe was never interested in women sexually.[33] Friends of Poe suggested that the couple did not share a bed for at least the first two years of their marriage but that, from the time she turned 16, they had a "normal" married life until the onset of her illness.[34]

Virginia and Poe were by all accounts a happy and devoted couple. Poe's one-time employer George Rex Graham wrote of their relationship: "His love for his wife was a sort of rapturous worship of the spirit of beauty."[35] Poe once wrote to a friend, "I see no one among the living as beautiful as my little wife."[36] She, in turn, by many contemporary accounts, nearly idolized her husband.[37] She often sat close to him while he wrote, kept his pens in order, and folded and addressed his manuscripts.[38] She showed her love for Poe in an acrostic poem she composed when she was 23, dated February 14, 1846:

Ever with thee I wish to roam —

Dearest my life is thine.

Give me a cottage for my home

And a rich old cypress vine,

Removed from the world with its sin and care

And the tattling of many tongues.

Love alone shall guide us when we are there —

Love shall heal my weakened lungs;

And Oh, the tranquil hours we'll spend,

Never wishing that others may see!

Perfect ease we'll enjoy, without thinking to lend

Ourselves to the world and its glee —

Ever peaceful and blissful we'll be.[39]

Osgood/Ellet scandal

The "tattling of many tongues" in Virginia's Valentine poem was a reference to actual incidents.[40] In 1845, Poe had begun a flirtation with Frances Sargent Osgood, a married 34-year-old poet.[41] Virginia was aware of the friendship and might even have encouraged it.[42] She often invited Osgood to visit them at home, believing that the older woman had a "restraining" effect on Poe, who had made a promise to "give up the use of stimulants" and was never drunk in Osgood's presence.[43]

At the same time, another poet, Elizabeth F. Ellet, became enamored of Poe and jealous of Osgood.[42] Though, in a letter to Sarah Helen Whitman, Poe called her love for him "loathsome" and wrote that he "could do nothing but repel [it] with scorn," he printed many of her poems to him in the Broadway Journal while he was its editor.[44] Ellet was known for being meddlesome and vindictive[45] and, while visiting the Poe household in late January 1846, she saw one of Osgood's personal letters to Poe.[46] According to Ellet, Virginia pointed out "fearful paragraphs" in Osgood's letter.[47] Ellet contacted Osgood and suggested she should beware of her indiscretions and asked Poe to return her letters,[46] motivated either by jealousy or by a desire to cause scandal.[47] Osgood then sent Margaret Fuller and Anne Lynch Botta to ask Poe on her behalf to return the letters. Angered by their interference, Poe called them "Busy-bodies" and said that Ellet had better "look after her own letters," suggesting indiscretion on her part.[48] He then gathered up these letters from Ellet and left them at her house.[46]

Though these letters had already been returned to her, Ellet asked her brother "to demand of me the letters."[48] Her brother, Colonel William Lummis, did not believe that Poe had already returned them and threatened to kill him. In order to defend himself, Poe requested a pistol from Thomas Dunn English.[46] English, Poe's friend and a minor writer who was also a trained doctor and lawyer, likewise did not believe that Poe had already returned the letters and even questioned their existence.[48] The easiest way out of the predicament, he said, "was a retraction of unfounded charges."[49] Angered at being called a liar, Poe pushed English into a fistfight. Poe later claimed he was triumphant in the fight, though English claimed otherwise, and Poe's face was badly cut by one of English's rings.[46] In Poe's version, he said, "I gave E. a flogging which he will remember to the day of his death." Either way, the fight further sparked gossip over the Osgood affair.[50]

Osgood's husband stepped in and threatened to sue Ellet unless she formally apologized for her insinuations. She retracted her statements in a letter to Osgood saying, "The letter shown me by Mrs Poe must have been a forgery" created by Poe himself.[51] She put all the blame on Poe, suggesting the incident was because Poe was "intemperate and subject to acts of lunacy."[52] Ellet spread the rumor of Poe's insanity, which was taken up by other enemies of Poe and reported in newspapers. The St. Louis Reveille reported: "A rumor is in circulation in New York, to the effect that Mr. Edgar A. Poe, the poet and author, has been deranged, and his friends are about to place him under the charge of Dr. Brigham of the Insane Retreat at Utica."[53] The scandal eventually died down only when Osgood reunited with her husband.[52] Virginia, however, had been very affected by the whole affair. She had received anonymous letters about her husband's alleged indiscretions as early as July 1845. It is presumed that Ellet was involved with these letters, and they so disturbed Virginia that she allegedly declared on her deathbed that "Mrs. E. had been her murderer."[54]


By this time, Virginia had developed tuberculosis, first seen sometime in the middle of January 1842. While singing and playing the piano, Virginia began to bleed from the mouth, though Poe said she merely "ruptured a blood-vessel."[55] Her health declined and she became an invalid, which drove Poe into a deep depression, especially as she occasionally showed signs of improvement. In a letter to friend John Ingram, Poe described his resulting mental state: "Each time I felt all the agonies of her death—and at each accession of the disorder I loved her more dearly & clung to her life with more desperate pertinacity. But I am constitutionally sensitive—nervous in a very unusual degree. I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity."[56]

Virginia's condition might have been what prompted the Poe family to move, in the hopes of finding a healthier environment for her. They moved several times within Philadelphia in the early 1840s and their last home in that city is now preserved as the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site in Spring Garden.[57] In this home, Virginia was well enough to tend the flower garden[58] and entertain visitors by playing the harp or the piano and singing.[59] The family then moved to New York sometime in early April 1844, traveling by train and steamboat. Virginia waited on board the ship while her husband secured space at a boarding house on Greenwich Street.[60] By early 1846, family friend Elizabeth Oakes Smith said that Virginia admitted, "I know I shall die soon; I know I can't get well; but I want to be as happy as possible, and make Edgar happy."[61] She promised her husband that after her death she would be his guardian angel.[62]

Move to Fordham

Virginia Poe endured the latter part of her illness at the Poe Cottage in the Bronx, New York. Her bedroom is preserved there. In May 1846, the family (Poe, Virginia, and her mother, Maria) moved to a small cottage in Fordham, about fourteen miles outside the city,[63] a home which is still standing today. In what is the only surviving letter from Poe to Virginia, dated June 12, 1846, he urged her to remain optimistic: "Keep up your heart in all hopelessness, and trust yet a little longer." Of his recent loss of the Broadway Journal, the only magazine Poe ever owned, he said, "I should have lost my courage but for you—my darling little wife you are my greatest and only stimulus now to battle with this uncongenial, unsatisfactory and ungrateful life."[64] But by November of that year, Virginia's condition was hopeless.[15] Her symptoms included irregular appetite, flushed cheeks, unstable pulse, night sweats, high fever, sudden chills, shortness of breath, chest pains, coughing and spitting up blood.[64]

Nathaniel Parker Willis, a friend of Poe's and an influential editor, published an announcement on December 30, 1846, requesting help for the family, though his facts were not entirely correct:[65]

Illness of Edgar A. Poe. —We regret to learn that this gentleman and his wife are both dangerously ill with the consumption, and that the hand of misfortune lies heavily on their temporal affairs. We are sorry to mention the fact that they are so far reduced as to be barely able to obtain the necessaries of life. That is, indeed, a hard lot, and we do hope that the friends and admirers of Mr. Poe will come promptly to his assistance in his bitterest hour of need.[66]

Willis, who had not corresponded with Poe for two years and had since lost his own wife, was one of his greatest supporters in this period. He sent Poe and his wife an inspirational Christmas book, The Marriage Ring; or How to Make a Home Happy.[66]

The announcement was similar to one made for Poe's mother, Eliza Poe, during her last stages of tuberculosis.[65] Other newspapers picked up on the story: "Great God!", said one, "is it possible, that the literary people of the Union, will let poor Poe perish by starvation and lean faced beggary in New York? For so we are led to believe, from frequent notices in the papers, stating that Poe and his wife are both down upon a bed of misery, death, and disease, with not a ducat in the world."[66] The Saturday Evening Post asserted that Virginia was in a hopeless condition and that Poe was bereft: "It is said that Edgar A. Poe is lying dangerously with brain fever, and that his wife is in the last stages of consumption—they are without money and without friends."[64] Even editor Hiram Fuller, whom Poe had previously sued for libel, attempted in the New York Mirror to garner support for Poe and his wife: "We, whom he has quarrelled with, will take the lead," he wrote.[66]

Virginia was described as having dark hair and violet eyes, with skin so pale it was called "pure white,"[67] causing a "bad complexion that spoiled her looks."[2] One visitor to the Poe family noted that "the rose-tint upon her cheek was too bright," possibly a symptom of her illness.[68] Another visitor in Fordham wrote, "Mrs. Poe looked very young; she had large black eyes, and a pearly whiteness of complexion, which was a perfect pallor. Her pale face, her brilliant eyes, and her raven hair gave her an unearthly look."[69] That unearthly look was mentioned by others who suggested it made her look not quite human.[70] William Gowans, who once lodged with the family, described Virginia as a woman of "matchless beauty and loveliness, her eye could match that of any houri, and her face defy the genius of a Canova to imitate."[71] She might have been a little plump.[70] Many contemporary accounts as well as modern biographers remark on her child-like appearance even in the last years of her life.[9][70][72]

While dying, Virginia asked her mother: "Darling... will you console and take care of my poor Eddy—you will never never leave him?"[73] Her mother stayed with Poe until his own death in 1849. As Virginia was dying, the family received many visitors, including an old friend named Mary Starr. At one point Virginia put Starr's hand in Poe's and asked her to "be a friend to Eddy, and don't forsake him".[74] Virginia was tended to by 25-year old Marie Louise Shew. Shew, who served as a nurse, knew medical care from her father and her husband, both doctors.[75] She provided Virginia with a comforter as her only other cover was Poe's old military cloak, as well as bottles of wine, which the invalid drank "smiling, even when difficult to get it down."[74] Virginia also showed Poe a letter from Louisa Patterson, second wife of Poe's foster-father John Allan, which she had kept for years[76] and which suggested that Patterson had purposely caused the break between Allan and Poe.[74]


On January 29, 1847, Poe wrote to Marie Louise Shew: "My poor Virginia still lives, although failing fast and now suffering much pain."[72] Virginia died the following day, January 30,[77] after five years of illness. Shew helped in organizing her funeral, even purchasing the coffin.[78] Death notices appeared in several newspapers. On February 1, The New York Daily Tribune and the Herald carried the simple obituary: "On Saturday, the 30th ult., of pulmonary consumption, in the 25th year of her age, VIRGINIA ELIZA, wife of EDGAR A. POE."[74] The funeral was February 2, 1847.[72] Attendees included Nathaniel Parker Willis, Ann S. Stephens, and publisher George Pope Morris. Poe refused to look at his dead wife's face, saying he preferred to remember her living.[79] Though now buried at Westminster Hall and Burying Ground, Virginia was originally buried in a vault owned by the Valentine family, from whom the Poes rented their Fordham cottage.[78]

Only one image of Virginia is known to exist, for which the painter had to take her corpse as model.[9] A few hours after her death, Poe realized he had no image of Virginia and so commissioned a portrait in watercolor.[72] She is shown wearing "beautiful linen" that Shew said she had dressed her in;[79] Shew might have been the portrait's artist, though this is uncertain.[78] The image depicts her with a slight double chin and with hazel eyes.[72] The image was passed down to the family of Virginia's half-sister Josephine, wife of Neilson Poe.[79]

In 1875, the same year in which her husband's body was reburied, the cemetery in which she lay was destroyed and her remains were almost forgotten. An early Poe biographer, William Gill, gathered the bones and stored them in a box he hid under his bed.[80] Gill's story was reported in the Boston Herald twenty-seven years after the event: he says that he had visited the Fordham cemetery in 1883 at exactly the moment that the sexton Dennis Valentine held Virginia's bones in his shovel, ready to throw them away as unclaimed. Poe himself had died in 1849, and so Gill took Virginia's remains and, after corresponding with Neilson Poe and John Prentiss Poe in Baltimore, arranged to bring the box down to be laid on Poe's left side in a small bronze casket.[81] Virginia's remains were finally buried with her husband's on January 19, 1885[82]—the seventy-sixth anniversary of her husband's birth and nearly ten years after his current monument was erected. The same man who served as sexton during Poe's original burial and his exhumations and reburials was also present at the rites which brought his body to rest with Virginia and Virginia's mother Maria Clemm.[81]

Effect and influence on Poe

Virginia's death had a significant effect on Poe. After her death, Poe was deeply saddened for several months. A friend said of him, "the loss of his wife was a sad blow to him. He did not seem to care, after she was gone, whether he lived an hour, a day, a week or a year; she was his all."[83] A year after her death, he wrote to a friend that he had experienced the greatest evil a man can suffer when, he said, "a wife, whom I loved as no man ever loved before," had fallen ill.[34] While Virginia was still struggling to recover, Poe turned to alcohol after abstaining for quite some time. How often and how much he drank is a controversial issue, debated in Poe's lifetime and also by modern biographers.[57] Poe referred to his emotional response to his wife's sickness as his own illness, and that he found the cure to it "in the death of my wife. This I can & do endure as becomes a man—it was the horrible never-ending oscillation between hope & despair which I could not longer have endured without the total loss of reason."[84]

Poe regularly visited Virginia's grave. As his friend Charles Chauncey Burr wrote, "Many times, after the death of his beloved wife, was he found at the dead hour of a winter night, sitting beside her tomb almost frozen in the snow."[85] Shortly after Virginia's death, Poe courted several other women, including Nancy Richmond of Lowell, Massachusetts, Sarah Helen Whitman of Providence, Rhode Island, and childhood sweetheart Sarah Elmira Royster in Richmond. Even so, Frances Sargent Osgood, whom Poe also attempted to woo, believed "that [Virginia] was the only woman whom he ever loved."[86]

References in literature

Many of Poe's works are interpreted autobiographically, with much of his work believed to reflect Virginia's long struggle with tuberculosis and her eventual death. The most discussed example is "Annabel Lee." This poem, which depicts a dead young bride and her mourning lover, is often assumed to have been inspired by Virginia, though other women in Poe's life are potential candidates including Frances Sargent Osgood[87] and Sarah Helen Whitman.[88] A similar poem, "Ulalume," is also believed to be a memorial tribute to Virginia,[89] as is "Lenore," whose title character is described as "the most lovely dead that ever died so young!"[90] After Poe's death, George Gilfillan of the London-based Critic said Poe was responsible for his wife's death, "hurrying her to a premature grave, that he might write 'Annabel Lee' and 'The Raven.'.[91]

Virginia is also seen in Poe's prose. The short story "Eleonora" (1842)—which features a narrator preparing to marry his cousin, with whom he lives alongside her mother—may also refer to Virginia's illness. When Poe wrote it, his wife had just begun to show signs of her illness.[92] It was shortly thereafter that the couple moved to New York City by boat and Poe published "The Oblong Box" (1844). This story, which shows a man mourning his young wife while transporting her corpse by boat, seems to suggest Poe's feelings about Virginia's impending death. As the ship sinks, the husband would rather die than be separated from his wife's corpse.[93] The short story "Ligeia," whose title character suffers a slow and lingering death, may also be inspired by Virginia.[94] After his wife's death, Poe edited his first published story, "Metzengerstein," to remove the narrator's line, "I would wish all I love to perish of that gentle disease," a reference to tuberculosis.[72] Poe's supposed insanity during his wife's illness may also be reflected in his first-person narratives "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Black Cat," and "The Cask of Amontillado."[34]


1.^ Thomas, Dwight & David K. Jackson. The Poe Log: A Documentary Life of Edgar Allan Poe, 1809–1849. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., 1987: 52. ISBN 0-7838-1401-1
2.^ Silverman, 82
3.^ Quinn,17
4.^ Silverman 81
5.^ Quinn, 726
6.^ Meyers, 59
7.^ Meyers, 60
8.^ Quinn, 256
9.^ Sova, 52
10.^ Haas, Irvin. Historic Homes of American Authors. Washington, DC: The Preservation Press, 1991. ISBN 0891331808. p. 78
11.^ Quinn, 187–188
12.^ Silverman, 96
13.^ Sova, 67
14.^ Quinn, 218
15.^ Silverman, 323
16.^ Sova, 225
17.^ Quinn, 219
18.^ Silverman, 104
19.^ Meyers, 72
20.^ Silverman, 105
21.^ Meyers, 74
22.^ Silverman, 107
23.^ Meyers, 85
24.^ Quinn, 252
25.^ Quinn, 254
26.^ Quinn, 230
27.^ Sova, 263
28.^ Hoffman, 26
29.^ Krutch, 52
30.^ Hoffman, 27
31.^ Richard, Claude and Jean-Marie Bonnet, "Raising the Wind; or, French Editions of the Works of Edgar Allan Poe," Poe Newsletter, vol. I, No. 1, April 1968, p. 12.
32.^ Krutch, 54
33.^ Krutch, 25
34.^ Sova, 53
35.^ Oberholtzer, 299
36.^ Phillips, 1184
37.^ Hoffman, 318
38.^ Phillips, 1183
39.^ Quinn, 497
40.^ Moss, 214
41.^ Silverman, 280
42.^ Meyers, 190
43.^ Silverman, 287
44.^ Moss, 212
45.^ Silverman, 288
46.^ Meyers, 191
47.^ Moss, 213
48.^ Silverman, 290
49.^ Moss, 220
50.^ Silverman, 291
51.^ Moss, 215
52.^ Silverman, 292
53.^ Meyers, 192
54.^ Moss, 213–214
55.^ Silverman, 179
56.^ Meyers, 208
57.^ Silverman, 183
58.^ Quinn, 385
59.^ Oberholtzer, 287
60.^ Silverman, 219–220
61.^ Phillips, 1098
62.^ Silverman, 301
63.^ Meyers, 322
64.^ Meyers, 203
65.^ Meyers, 202
66.^ Silverman, 324
67.^ Krutch, 55–56
68.^ Silverman, 182
69.^ Meyers, 204
70.^ Krutch, 56
71.^ Meyers, 92–93
72.^ Meyers, 206
73.^ Silverman, 420
74.^ Silverman, 326
75.^ Sova, 218
76.^ Quinn, 527
77.^ Krutch, 169
78.^ Silverman, 327
79.^ Phillips, 1203
80.^ Meyers, 263
81.^ Miller, John C. "The Exhumations and Reburials of Edgar and Virginia Poe and Mrs. Clemm," from Poe Studies, vol. VII, no. 2, December 1974, p. 47
82.^ Phillips, 1205
83.^ Meyers, 207
84.^ Moss, 233
85.^ Phillips, 1206
86.^ Krutch, 57
87.^ Meyers, 244
88.^ Sova, 12
89.^ Meyers, 211
90.^ Silverman, 202
91.^ Campbell, Killis. "The Poe-Griswold Controversy," The Mind of Poe and Other Studies. New York: Russell &; Russell, Inc., 1962: 79.
92.^ Sova, 78
93.^ Silverman, 228–229
94.^ Hoffman, 255–256


Hoffman, Daniel. Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1972. ISBN 0807123218.
Krutch, Joseph Wood. Edgar Allan Poe: A Study in Genius. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926.
Moss, Sidney P. Poe's Literary Battles: The Critic in the Context of His Literary Milieu. Southern Illinois University Press, 1969.
Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. Cooper Square Press, 1992. ISBN 0684193701.
Oberholtzer, Ellis Paxson. The Literary History of Philadelphia. Philadelphia: George W. Jacobs & Co., 1906. ISBN 1932109455.
Phillips, Mary E. Edgar Allan Poe: The Man. Chicago: The John C. Winston Company, 1926.
Quinn, Arthur Hobson. Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998. ISBN 0801857309
Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991. ISBN 0060923318.

"Bridal Ballad" Published 1837

The ring is on my hand,
And the wreath is on my brow;
Satin and jewels grand
Are all at my command,
And I am happy now.

And my lord he loves me well;
But, when first he breathed his vow,
I felt my bosom swell-
For the words rang as a knell,
And the voice seemed his who fell
In the battle down the dell,
And who is happy now.

But he spoke to re-assure me,
And he kissed my pallid brow,
While a reverie came o'er me,
And to the church-yard bore me,
And I sighed to him before me,
Thinking him dead D'Elormie,
"Oh, I am happy now!"

And thus the words were spoken,
And this the plighted vow,
And, though my faith be broken,
And, though my heart be broken,
Here is a ring, as token
That I am happy now!

Would God I could awaken!
For I dream I know not how!
And my soul is sorely shaken
Lest an evil step be taken,-
Lest the dead who is forsaken
May not be happy now.

Bridal Ballad (1837)

First published simply as "Ballad" in the January 1837 edition of the Southern Literary Messenger, it was later retitled as "Bridal Ballad" when it was printed in the July 31, 1841 edition of the Saturday Evening Post. The poem is unusual for Poe because it is written in the voice of a woman, specifically a recently-married bride. Despite her reassurances that she is "happy," the poem has a somber tone as it recounts a previous love who has died. In marrying, she has broken her vow to this previous lover to love him eternally.

Poe biographer Daniel Hoffman says that "Bridal Ballad" is guilty of "one of the most unfortunate rhymes in American poetry this side of Thomas Holley Chivers." He is referring to the name of the bride's dead lover, "D'Elormie," which he calls "patently a forced rhyme" for "o'er me" and "before me" in the previous lines  Aldous Huxley made the same observation, calling the rhyme "ludicrous" and "horribly vulgar."

The poem is one of the few works by Poe to be written in the voice of a woman. See also the humorous tale "A Predicament."

"To One in Paradise" Published 1834

Thou wast all that to me, love,
For which my soul did pine-
A green isle in the sea, love,
A fountain and a shrine,
All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers,
And all the flowers were mine.

Ah, dream too bright to last!
Ah, starry Hope! that didst arise
But to be overcast!
A voice from out the Future cries,
"On! on!"- but o'er the Past
(Dim gulf!) my spirit hovering lies
Mute, motionless, aghast!

For, alas! alas! me
The light of Life is o'er!
"No more- no more- no more-"
(Such language holds the solemn sea
To the sands upon the shore)
Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree
Or the stricken eagle soar!

And all my days are trances,
And all my nightly dreams
Are where thy grey eye glances,
And where thy footstep gleams-
In what ethereal dances,
By what eternal streams.

To One in Paradise (1833)

"To One in Paradise" was first published January 1834 in Godey's Lady's Book without a title as part of the short story "The Visionary" (later renamed "The Assignation"). It evolved into "To Ianthe in Heaven" and then into "To One Beloved" before being named "To One in Paradise" in the February 25, 1843 Saturday Museum.

Modernist poet William Carlos Williams considered "To One In Paradise" one of his most preferred poems.

The poem inspired a song composed by Sir Arthur Sullivan. "To One In Paradise" was published posthumously in 1904 and written for a tenor voice with piano. It is also the basis of the song To One In Paradise on the Alan Parsons Project 1976 album Tales of Mystery and Imagination.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

"The Raven" Published 1845

Poe first brought "The Raven" to his friend and former employer George Rex Graham of Graham's Magazine in Philadelphia. Graham declined the poem, which may not have been in its final version, though he gave Poe $15 as charity. Poe then sold the poem to The American Review, which paid him $9 for it, and printed "The Raven" in its February 1845 issue under the pseudonym "Quarles", a reference to the English poet Francis Quarles. The poem's first publication with Poe's name was in the Evening Mirror on January 29, 1845, as an "advance copy." Nathaniel Parker Willis, editor of the Mirror, introduced it as "unsurpassed in English poetry for subtle conception, masterly ingenuity of versification, and consistent, sustaining of imaginative lift... It will stick to the memory of everybody who reads it." Following this publication the poem appeared in periodicals across the United States, including the New York Tribune (February 4, 1845), Broadway Journal (vol. 1, February 8, 1845), Southern Literary Messenger (vol. 11, March 1845), Literary Emporium (vol. 2, December 1845), Saturday Courier, 16 (July 25, 1846), and the Richmond Examiner (September 25, 1849).[31] It has also appeared in numerous anthologies, starting with Poets and Poetry of America edited by Rufus Wilmot Griswold in 1847.

The immediate success of "The Raven" prompted Wiley and Putnam to publish a collection of Poe's prose called Tales in June 1845; it was his first book in five years. They also published a collection of his poetry called The Raven and Other Poems on November 19 by Wiley and Putnam which included a dedication to Barrett as "the Noblest of her Sex." The small volume, his first book of poetry in 14 years, was 100 pages and sold for 31 cents. In addition to the title poem, it included "The Valley of Unrest," "Bridal Ballad," "The City in the Sea," "Eulalie," "The Conqueror Worm," "The Haunted Palace" and eleven others. In the preface, Poe referred to them as "trifles" which had been altered without his permission as they made "the rounds of the press."

In part due to its dual printing, "The Raven" made Edgar Allan Poe a household name almost immediately and turned Poe into a national celebrity. Readers began to identify poem with poet, earning Poe the nickname "The Raven." The poem was soon widely reprinted, imitated, and parodied. Though it made Poe popular in his day, it did not bring him significant financial success. As he later lamented, "I have made no money. I am as poor now as ever I was in my life—except in hope, which is by no means bankable."

The New World said, "Everyone reads the Poem and praises it... justly, we think, for it seems to us full of originality and power." The Pennsylvania Inquirer reprinted it with the heading "A Beautiful Poem." Elizabeth Barrett wrote to Poe, "Your 'Raven' has produced a sensation, a fit o' horror, here in England. Some of my friends are taken by the fear of it and some by the music. I hear of persons haunted by 'Nevermore'." Poe's popularity resulted in invitations to recite "The Raven" and to lecture – in public and at private social gatherings. At one literary salon, a guest noted, "to hear [Poe] repeat the Raven... is an event in one's life." It was recalled by someone who experienced it, "He would turn down the lamps till the room was almost dark, then standing in the center of the apartment he would recite... in the most melodious of voices... So marvelous was his power as a reader that the auditors would be afraid to draw breath lest the enchanted spell be broken." Parodies sprung up especially in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia and included "The Craven" by "Poh!," "The Gazelle," "The Whippoorwill," and "The Turkey." One parody, "The Pole-Cat," caught the attention of Andrew Johnston, a lawyer who sent it on to Abraham Lincoln. Though Lincoln admitted he had "several hearty laughs," he had not, at that point read "The Raven." However, Lincoln eventually read and memorized the poem.

"The Raven" was praised by fellow writers William Gilmore Simms and Margaret Fuller, though it was denounced by William Butler Yeats, who called it "insincere and vulgar... its execution a rhythmical trick." Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I see nothing in it." A critic for the Southern Quarterly Review wrote in July 1848 that the poem was ruined by "a wild and unbridled extravagance" and that minor things like a rapping at the door and a fluttering curtain would only affect "a child who had been frightened to the verge of idiocy by terrible ghost stories." An anonymous writer going by the pseudonym "Outis" suggested in the Evening Mirror that "The Raven" was plagiarized from a poem called "The Bird of the Dream" by an unnamed author. The writer showed 18 similarities between the poems and was made as a response to Poe's accusations of plagiarism against Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It has been suggested Outis was really Cornelius Conway Felton, if not Poe himself. After Poe's death, his friend Thomas Holley Chivers said "The Raven" was plagiarized from one of his poems. In particular, he claimed to have been the inspiration for the meter of the poem as well as the refrain "nevermore."

"The Raven" has influenced many modern works, including Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita in 1955, Bernard Malamud's "The Jewbird" in 1963 and Ray Bradbury's "The Parrot Who Knew Papa" in 1976. The poem is additionally referenced throughout popular culture in films, television, music and more.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Third Annual SCARP Symposium Metropolis: Growing Just or Just Growing?

Here's an event happening next Friday that I think could be most interesting....I'm looking forward to participating on a panel discussing social diversity and in particular, a desired future for the Downtown Eastside

Oscar Gustav Dahlberg's "The Raven"


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Deathday: Journalist Nellie Bly 1922

Nellie Bly (May 5, 1864[1] – January 27, 1922) was the pen name of American pioneer female journalist Elizabeth Jane Cochran. She remains notable for two feats: a record-breaking trip around the world in emulation of Jules Verne's character Phileas Fogg, and an exposé in which she faked insanity to study a mental institution from within. In addition to her writing, she was also an industrialist and charity worker.

 Early years

Born on May 5, 1864 as Elizabeth Jane Cochran in Cochran's Mills, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, 40 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, she was nicknamed "Pink" for wearing that color as a child. Her father, a wealthy former associate justice, died when she was six. Her mother remarried three years later, but sued for divorce when Cochran was 14. Cochran testified in court against her allegedly drunken, violent stepfather. As a teenager she changed her surname to Cochrane, apparently adding the "e" for sophistication.[2] She attended boarding school for one term, but dropped out because of a lack of funds. In 1880, Cochran and her family moved to Pittsburgh. A sexist column in the Pittsburgh Dispatch prompted her to write a fiery rebuttal to the editor with the pen name "Lonely Orphan Girl". He was so impressed with her earnestness and spirit he asked her to join the paper. Female newspaper writers at that time customarily used pen names, and for Cochran the editor chose "Nellie Bly", adopted from the title character in the popular song "Nelly Bly" by Stephen Foster.

Nellie Bly focused her early work for the Dispatch on the plight of working women, writing a series of investigative articles on female factory workers. But editorial pressure pushed her to the women's pages to cover fashion, society, and gardening, the usual role for female journalists of the day. Dissatisfied with these duties, she took the initiative and traveled to Mexico to serve as a foreign correspondent. Still only 21, she spent nearly half a year reporting the lives and customs of the Mexican people; her dispatches were later published in book form as Six Months in Mexico. In one report, she protested the imprisonment of a local journalist for criticizing the Mexican government, then a dictatorship under Porfirio Díaz. When Mexican authorities learned of Bly's report, they threatened her with arrest, prompting her to leave the country. Safely home, she denounced Díaz as a tyrannical czar suppressing the Mexican people and controlling the press.

Asylum exposé

Burdened again with theater and arts reporting, Bly left the Pittsburgh Dispatch in 1887 for New York City. Penniless after four months, she talked her way into the offices of Joseph Pulitzer's newspaper, the New York World, and took an undercover assignment for which she agreed to feign insanity to investigate reports of brutality and neglect at the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell's Island.

After a night of practicing deranged expressions in front of a mirror, she checked into a working-class boardinghouse. She refused to go to bed, telling the boarders that she was afraid of them and that they looked crazy. They soon decided that she was crazy, and the next morning summoned the police. Taken to a courtroom, she pretended to have amnesia. The judge concluded she had been drugged.

She was then examined by several doctors, who all declared her to be insane. "Positively demented," said one, "I consider it a hopeless case. She needs to be put where someone will take care of her."[3] The head of the insane pavilion at Bellevue Hospital pronounced her "undoubtedly insane". The case of the "pretty crazy girl" attracted media attention: "Who Is This Insane Girl?" asked the New York Sun. The New York Times wrote of the "mysterious waif" with the "wild, hunted look in her eyes", and her desperate cry: "I can't remember I can't remember."[4]

Committed to the asylum, Bly experienced its conditions firsthand. The food consisted of gruel broth, spoiled beef, bread that was little more than dried dough, and dirty undrinkable water. The dangerous patients were tied together with ropes. The patients were made to sit for much of each day on hard benches with scant protection from the cold. Waste was all around the eating places. Rats crawled all around the hospital. The bathwater was frigid, and buckets of it were poured over their heads. The nurses were obnoxious and abusive, telling the patients to shut up, and beating them if they did not. Speaking with her fellow patients, Bly was convinced that some were as sane as she was. On the effect of her experiences, she wrote:

"What, excepting torture, would produce insanity quicker than this treatment? Here is a class of women sent to be cured. I would like the expert physicians who are condemning me for my action, which has proven their ability, to take a perfectly sane and healthy woman, shut her up and make her sit from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. on straight-back benches, do not allow her to talk or move during these hours, give her no reading and let her know nothing of the world or its doings, give her bad food and harsh treatment, and see how long it will take to make her insane. Two months would make her a mental and physical wreck."[3]

"...My teeth chattered and my limbs were ...numb with cold. Suddenly, I got three buckets of ice-cold in my eyes, nose and mouth."

After ten days, Bly was released from the asylum at The World's behest. Her report, later published in book form as Ten Days in a Mad-House, caused a sensation and brought her lasting fame. While embarrassed physicians and staff fumbled to explain how so many professionals had been fooled, a grand jury launched its own investigation into conditions at the asylum, inviting Bly to assist. The jury's report recommended the changes she had proposed, and its call for increased funds for care of the insane prompted an $850,000 increase in the budget of the Department of Public Charities and Corrections. They also made sure that all of the examinations were more thorough so that only people who were actually insane went to the asylum.

Around the world

Nellie Bly in her traveling clothes, 1890In 1888, Nellie suggested to her editor at the New York World that she take a trip around the world, attempting to turn the fictional Around the World in Eighty Days into fact for the first time. A year later, at 9:40 a.m. on November 14, 1889, and with two days' notice,[5] she boarded the Augusta Victoria, a steamer of the Hamburg America Line,[6] and began her 24,899-mile journey.

She brought with her the dress she was wearing, a sturdy overcoat, several changes of underwear and a small travel bag carrying her toiletry essentials. She carried most of her money (200 £ in English bank notes and gold in total as well as some American currency)[7] in a bag tied around her neck.[8]

The New York newspaper Cosmopolitan sponsored its own reporter, Elizabeth Bisland, to beat the time of both Phileas Fogg and Bly. Bisland would travel the opposite way around the world.

To sustain interest in the story, the World organized a “Nellie Bly Guessing Match” in which readers were asked to estimate Bly’s arrival time to the second, with the Grand Prize consisting at first of (only) a free trip to Europe and, later on, spending money for the trip.[8][9]

On her travels around the world, she went through England, France (where she met Jules Verne in Amiens), Brindisi, the Suez Canal, Colombo (Ceylon), Hong Kong, the Straits Settlement of Penang and Singapore, and Japan. The development of efficient submarine cable networks and the electric telegraph allowed Bly to send short progress reports[10], though longer dispatches had to travel by regular post and were thus often delayed by several weeks.[9]

She travelled using steamships and the existing railroad systems[11], which caused occasional setbacks, particularly on the Asian leg of her race.[12] During these stops, she visited an Asian torture garden,[13] a leper colony in China[13][14] and she bought a monkey in Singapore[13][15].

Due to rough weather on her Pacific crossing, she arrived in San Francisco on the White Star liner Oceanic on January 21, two days behind schedule[12][16] However, World owner Pulitzer chartered a private train to bring her home, and she arrived back in New Jersey on January 25, 1890, at 3:51 p.m.[10].

"Seventy-two days, six hours, eleven minutes and fourteen seconds after her Hoboken departure" Bly was back in New York. She had circumnavigated the globe almost[6] unchaperoned. At the time, Bisland was still going around the world. Like Bly, she had missed a connection and had to board a slow, old ship called the "Bothina" in the place of a fast ship called the "Etruria".[5] Bly's journey, at the time, was a world record, though it was bettered a few months later by George Francis Train, who completed the journey in 67 days[17]. By 1913, Andre Jaeger-Schmidt, Henry Frederick and John Henry Mears had improved on the record, the latter completing the journey in less than 36 days.[18]

Later years

In 1895 Nellie Bly married millionaire manufacturer Robert Seaman, who was 40 years her senior. She retired from journalism, and became the president of the Iron Clad Manufacturing Co., which made steel containers such as milk cans and boilers. In 1904 she invented and patented [19] the steel barrel that was the model for the 55-gallon oil drum still in widespread use in the United States. Her husband died that year. For a time she was one of the leading female industrialists in the United States, but embezzlement by employees forced her into bankruptcy. Forced back into reporting, she covered such events as the women's suffrage convention in 1913, and stories on Europe's Eastern Front during World War I.[20]

In 1916 Nellie was given a baby boy whose mother requested Nellie look after him and see that he become adopted. The child was illegitimate and difficult to place since he was half-Japanese. He spent the next six years in an orphanage run by the Church For All Nations[clarification needed] in Manhattan.

As Nellie became ill towards the end of her life she requested that her niece, Beatrice Brown, look after the boy and several other babies in whom she had become interested. Her interest in orphanages may have been part of her ongoing efforts to improve the social organizations of the day.

She died of bronchopneumonia at St. Mark's Hospital in New York City in 1922, at age 57, and was interred in a modest grave at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.


Dramatic representations

Bly was the subject of a 1946 Broadway musical by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen.[21]

In 1981 Linda Purl appeared as Bly in a made for TV movie called The Adventures of Nellie Bly.[22]

A fictionalized account of her around the world trip was used in the comic book "Julie Walker is The Phantom" published by Moonstone Books (Story: Elizabeth Massie, art: Paul Daly, colors: Stephen Downer).[23]

Mentions of her

She provides the hinge of a scene in which Abbey Bartlet declaims Bly's achievements to President Josiah Bartlet in The West Wing episode "And Surely It's To Their Credit".[24]

In several recorded versions of the traditional song "Frankie and Johnny", such as the version recorded by Jimmie Rodgers, the lover of the male character "Johnny" is identified as "Nellie Bly."

Named after her

The Nellie Bly Amusement Park in Brooklyn, New York City, is named after her, taking as its theme Around the World in Eighty Days. The park recently reopened under new management, renamed "Adventurers Amusement Park."

From early in the twentieth century until 1961, the Pennsylvania Railroad operated a parlor-car only express train between New York and Atlantic City that bore the name, "Nellie Bly."

Other recognition

In 1998, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.[25]

Nellie Bly was one of four journalists honored with a U.S postage stamp in a "Women in Journalism" set in 2002.[26]

Her investigation of the Blackwell's Island insane asylum is dramatized in a 4-D film in the Annenberg Theater at the Newseum in Washington, DC.


Bly, Nellie (1887). Ten Days in a Mad-House.
Kroeger, Brooke (1994). Nellie Bly: Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist.
Affidavit of Beatrice K. Brown; Surrogates Court, Kings County (1922)


1.^ Kroeger 1994 reports (p. 529) that although a birth year of 1867 was deduced from the age Bly claimed to be at the height of her popularity, her baptismal record confirms 1864.
2.^ Kroeger 1994, p. 25.
3.^ Bly 1887.
4.^ Kroeger 1994, pp. 91–92.
5.^ Ruddick, Nicholas. “Nellie Bly, Jules Verne, and the World on the Threshold of the American Age.” Canadian Review of American Studies, Volume 29, Number 1, 1999, p. 4
6.^ Kroeger, Brooke. Nellie Bly – Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist. Times Books Random House, 1994, p. 146
7.^ Kroeger, Brooke. Nellie Bly – Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist. Times Books Random House, 1994, p. 141
8.^ Ruddick, Nicholas. “Nellie Bly, Jules Verne, and the World on the Threshold of the American Age.” Canadian Review of American Studies, Volume 29, Number 1, 1999, p. 5
9.^ Kroeger, Brooke. Nellie Bly – Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist. Times Books Random House, 1994, p. 150
10.^ Ruddick, Nicholas. “Nellie Bly, Jules Verne, and the World on the Threshold of the American Age.” Canadian Review of American Studies, Volume 29, Number 1, 1999, p. 8
11.^ Ruddick, Nicholas. “Nellie Bly, Jules Verne, and the World on the Threshold of the American Age.” Canadian Review of American Studies, Volume 29, Number 1, 1999, p. 6
12.^ Bear, David. “Around the World With Nellie Bly.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 26, 2006
13.^ Ruddick, Nicholas. “Nellie Bly, Jules Verne, and the World on the Threshold of the American Age.” Canadian Review of American Studies, Volume 29, Number 1, 1999, p. 7
14.^ Kroeger, Brooke. Nellie Bly – Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist. Times Books Random House, 1994, p. 160
15.^ Kroeger, Brooke. Nellie Bly – Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist. Times Books Random House, 1994, p. 158
16.^ *Daily Alta California, "Phineas Fogg Outdone", January 22, 1890
17.^ para 16
18.^ New York Times, “A Run Around the World”, August 8, 1913
20.^ The remarkable Nellie Bly, inventor of the metal oil drum, Petroleum Age, 12/2006, p.5.
21.^ "After the poorly received Nellie Bly (1946) ... [stage director Edgar J.] MacGregor retired.",
22.^ per The Adventures of Nellie Bly
23.^ Julie Walker is The Phantom
25.^ National Women's Hall of Fame
26.^ USPS Press Release (September 14, 2002), Four Accomplished Journalists Honored on U.S. Postage Stamps,

Some more musings on 150 foot buildings in Chinatown and the DTES

The discussion regarding the appropriateness of more buildings up to 150 feet in height in Chinatown and the DTES is continuing. Frances Bula has written about it, and many are talking about it. In the last few days, I have often been asked my views. So the following is a modified version of comments I posted this morning on Frances Bula's site.

I am troubled by the notion that we should consider taller buildings in Chinatown because some businessmen in the Chinatown community think this will lead to economic revitalization.

Conversely, I am troubled by the claims of 30 ‘learned’ academics that we should not allow taller buildings since they will result in a loss of affordable housing for the poor, and gentrification in the area.

With respect to the first comment, revitalization is already happening in Chinatown and in a limited number of DTES locations. I appreciate that some of the Chinatown merchants may not like the changes being brought about by the two new condominium projects V6A and Ginger, and the new restaurants and professional offices opening up in the area that are bringing a new demographic into the area, but the reality is that our Chinatown has changed forever, as a result of the emergence of Richmond’s ‘Chinatown’ and other 'Chinatowns' around the region.

In my opinion, there will continue to be new condominium developments catering to hip young buyers in Chinatown regardless of whether the height limits allow 10 storeys or 16 storeys. But I fear that allowing 5 new buildings up to 16 storeys along Main Street, (as staff are suggesting might be possible), will ultimately lead to a very different character for the area. It’s not just the five buildings…it’s the five more buildings that come afterwards, and then another five buildings and so on....

I worry that these taller buildings along Main Street will likely detract from the heritage character of the area. One reason I worry is that I don’t know what the new buildings will look like. That is why I have suggested to staff that they prepare drawings illustrating what 16 storey buildings might look like from different angles.

Now I admit I might be wrong. So please show me and others the pictures. Then we will all be in a more informed position to comment.

I also admit that some of my concerns are rooted in the above mentioned notion that taller buildings are necessary for economic revitalization. To me this is nonesense. I just don’t believe it.

So what’s the solution, In addition to seeing some illustrations, I would like to hear from architect Joe Wai, who has been working in Chinaotwn for four decades, and knows the area much better than me. He also understands what tall buildings can, and cannot do.

And although we have heard from 30 ‘learned academics’, I would also like to hear from other academics, especially those who are knowledgeable about architecture and planning.

I am troubled by the silence of professors from the School of Community and Regional Planning and the Faculty of Architecture at UBC. I would like to hear their views on the staff report.

I would also like to hear from more professionals in Vancouver’s architectural and planning community. I know some are conflicted, and some may be reluctant to speak out since they worry doing so might compromise their ability to get approvals from staff or Councils in the future. But the planning of important heritage areas in the city are at stake.

I think we all deserve second or third opinions on these important planning propositions.

(And while the professors and architects/planners are at it, I hope they will comment on the building heights/views/capacity report for the downtown.

And then they can comment on other current proposals for taller buildings and higher densities around the city.)

To be honest, I don’t know what they will say. They may completely disagree with my concerns, but I think it is important for staff and Council to hear from these people…not just from caring sociologists and related academics who might have been asked by activists concerned about the potential gentrification of the DTES (or by other colleagues who were approached by activists concerned about the potential gentrification of the DTES).

I would like to conclude on the subject of gentrification, which along with ‘revitalization’ seems to be at the root of this discussion,

I understand gentrification to mean the eviction of lower income households by the ‘gentry’ who move into an area as it is being revitalized and improved.

In the case of the DTES, a lot of the lower income households are living in affordable housing stock that is protected…since it is owned by governments and non-profits, or covered by anti-demolition bylaws. I acknowledge that some of the housing may be deliberately allowed to run-down, but the city can take steps to prevent this from happening too.

Furthermore, whether the building heights are 10 storeys or 16 storeys, we are going to see condominium development in both the DTES and Chinatown…and I think this is a good thing….they will result in healthier, more interesting and diverse communities.

The current situation in the DTES and Chinatown is not acceptable…there is a need for a broader social and income mix, and yes revitalization. But let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater. This might happen unless we better understand the ramifications of more 150 foot buildings.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pere Lachaise Grave of Gerard de Nerval

Deathday: Romantic Poet Gerard De Nerval 1855

Gérard de Nerval (May 22, 1808 – January 26, 1855) was the nom-de-plume of the French poet, essayist and translator Gérard Labrunie, one of the most essentially Romantic French poets.


Two years after his birth in Paris, his mother died in Silesia while accompanying her husband, a military doctor, a member of Napoleon's Grande Armée. He was brought up by his maternal great-uncle, Antoine Boucher, in the countryside of Valois at Mortefontaine. On the return of his father from war during 1814, he was sent back to Paris. He frequently returned to the countryside of Valois during holidays and later returned to it in imagination in his Chansons et légendes du Valois.

His talent for translation was made manifest in his translation of Goethe's Faust (1828), the work which earned him his reputation; Goethe praised it, and Hector Berlioz later used sections for his legend-symphony La damnation de Faust. Other translations from Goethe ensued; in the 1840s, Nerval's translations introduced Heinrich Heine's poems to French readers of the Revue des deux mondes. During the 1820s at college he became lifelong friends with Théophile Gautier and later joined Alexandre Dumas, père in the Petit Cénacle, in what was an exceedingly bohemian set, which was ultimately to become the Club des Hashischins. Nerval's poetry is characterized by Romantic deism. His passion for the 'spirit world' was matched by a decidedly more negative view of the material one: "This life is a hovel and a place of ill-repute. I'm ashamed that God should see me here." Among his admirers was Victor Hugo.

Gérard de Nerval's first nervous breakdown occurred during 1841. In a series of novellas, collected as Les Illuminés, ou les précurseurs du socialisme (1852), on themes suggested by the careers of Rétif de la Bretonne, Cagliostro and others, he described feelings that followed his third insanity. Increasingly poverty-stricken and disoriented, he finally committed suicide during 1855, hanging himself from a window grating. He left only a brief note to his aunt: "Do not wait up for me this evening, for the night will be black and white."[1] He was interred in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.


The influence of Nerval's insistence on the significance of dreams on the Surrealist movement was emphasised by André Breton. The writers Marcel Proust and René Daumal were also greatly influenced by Nerval's work, as was Artaud.

Umberto Eco analyses Gérard de Nerval's Sylvie (calling it a "masterpiece") to show the use of temporal ambiguity, demystifying the "mists" during his Six Walks in the Fictional Woods.

Allusions by others

T. S. Eliot quoted the second line of Nerval's sonnet "El Desdichado" in his poem The Waste Land. Donald Swann set that poem to music as "Je Suis le Ténébreux" (its first words) and Flanders and Swann performed it in their revue At the Drop of a Hat (1956); it appears on the live recording. Clive James, in his songwriting collaboration with Pete Atkin, wrote two lyrics that refer to the poem, "The Prince of Aquitaine" and "The Shadow and the Widower".[2]

The British progressive rock music band Pure Reason Revolution draw extensively from Nerval for influence in their lyrics, which often revolve around dreams and use a 'stream of consciousness' technique very similar to Nerval's. The title of their song "Trembling Willows" is a reference to one of Nerval's poems, "Delfica", and its lyrics take many of the same images. Similarly, the song "In Aurelia" comes from Nerval's masterpiece of the same name.

The British rock music band Traffic included a song on their album When the Eagle Flies called "Dream Gerrard." The lyrics were written by Vivian Stanshall as a tribute to Nerval. The song contains surreal lyrics like Nerval's work.

Nerval is referenced in Richard Wilbur's new book Anterooms in the poem "A Prelude". The poem is a mockery of the seriousness of Matthew Arnold and his poem "Dover Beach". Wilbur writes of Matthew Arnold, "And was upon the point of saying "Ah," / When he perceived, not far from the great Aiguille, / A lobster led on a leash beside the sea. / It was Nerval, enjoying his vacances!"

Pet lobster

Nerval had a pet lobster named Thibault which he took for walks in the Palais Royal gardens in Paris on the end of a blue silk ribbon.[3] Nerval wrote to his close childhood friend Laura LeBeau, recounting an embarrassing incident that occurred while on holiday in La Rochelle: "...and so, dear Laura, upon my regaining the town square I was accosted by the mayor who demanded that I should make a full and frank apology for stealing from the lobster nets. I will not bore you with the rest of the story, but suffice to say that reparations were made, and little Thibault is now here with me in the city..."[3]

In an article about the life of Nerval by his contemporary, Théophile Gautier, Nerval is quoted as having said "Why should a lobster be any more ridiculous than a dog? ...or a cat, or a gazelle, or a lion, or any other animal that one chooses to take for a walk? I have a liking for lobsters. They are peaceful, serious creatures. They know the secrets of the sea, they don't bark, and they don't gnaw upon one's monadic privacy like dogs do. And Goethe had an aversion to dogs, and he wasn't mad."[4]

In the Sam Shepard and Patti Smith play Cowboy Mouth, the character Cavale is obsessed with Nerval, making numerous references to him and claiming that Nerval hanged himself on [her] birthday. It also mentions Nerval having a pet lobster, as above, amidst other fantastic claims. This may be the inspiration for the play's character 'Lobster Man.'

Flanders and Swann make mention of Nerval's pet lobster in the introduction to "Je Suis Le Ténébreux".[5]

Works by Nerval

Les faux saulniers (1850)
Voyage en Orient (1851), resulted from his extended hashish-filled voyage of 1842 to Cairo and Beirut. It must have puzzled readers of conventional travel books, for it retells Oriental tales like Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, in terms of the artist and the act of creation.
La Bohème Galante (1852)
Les Nuits d'Octobre (1852)
Sylvie (1853)
Petits châteaux de Bohême (1853)
Les Filles du Feu (1854), a volume of short stories.
Les Chimères poems appended to Les Filles de Feu, translated by Mark Lamoureux
Aurélia (1855), his fantasy-ridden interior autobiography— "Our dreams are a second life," he wrote— which influenced the Surrealists.
Promenades et Souvenirs (1854–56)


1.^ Sieburth, Richard, Gerard de Nerval: Selected Writings, p. xxxi, Penguin Group, London, 1999
2.^ James, Clive; Curry, Andrew; Birkill, S. J.. "Shadow and the Widower". Smash Flops.
3.^ Horton, Scott (2008-10-12). "Nerval: A Man and His Lobster". Harper's Magazine.
4.^ Gautier, Théophile. Portraits et Souvenirs Littéraires (Paris: Charpentier, 1875), Richard Holmes trans.
5.^ "At the Drop of a Hat - Je suis le Ténébreux". Flanders and Swann Online.

Animated Version of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven"

Mr. Meep Studios

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe - Animated Movie

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
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.''

Petit court métrage en hommage au magnifique poème d'Edgar Allan Poe, sur une musique du groupe Alan Persons Project, étant également un hommage au poète et à son corbeau.

Milesthefox89 - June 17, 2008

Monday, January 24, 2011

Gustave Dore's "The Raven" Illustrations

Gustave Doré illustrated an oversized edition of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven," an endeavor that earned him 30,000 francs from publisher Harper and Brothers in 1883.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Deathday: Raven Illustrator Gustave Dore 1883

Paul Gustave Doré ( January 6, 1832 – January 23, 1883) was a French artist, engraver, illustrator and sculptor. Doré worked primarily with wood engraving and steel engraving.


Doré was born in Strasbourg and his first illustrated story was published at the age of fifteen. His skill had manifested itself even earlier, however. At age five he had been a prodigy artist, creating drawings that were mature beyond his years. Seven years later, he began carving in stone. Subsequently, as a young man, he began work as a literary illustrator in Paris, winning commissions to depict scenes from books by Rabelais, Balzac, Milton and Dante.

In 1853, Doré was asked to illustrate the works of Lord Byron. This commission was followed by additional work for British publishers, including a new illustrated English Bible. A decade later, he illustrated a French edition of Cervantes's Don Quixote, and his depictions of the knight and his squire, Sancho Panza, have become so famous that they have influenced subsequent readers, artists, and stage and film directors' ideas of the physical "look" of the two characters. Doré also illustrated an oversized edition of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven," an endeavor that earned him 30,000 francs from publisher Harper Brothers in 1883.

Doré's English Bible (1866) was a great success, and in 1867 Doré had a major exhibition of his work in London. This exhibition led to the foundation of the Doré Gallery in New Bond Street. In 1869, Blanchard Jerrold, the son of Douglas William Jerrold, suggested that they work together to produce a comprehensive portrait of London. Jerrold had obtained the idea from The Microcosm of London produced by Rudolph Ackermann, William Pyne, and Thomas Rowlandson in 1808. Doré signed a five-year contact with the publishers Grant Co that involved his staying in London for three months a year, and he received the vast sum of £10,000 a year for the project. Doré was mainly celebrated for his paintings in his day. His paintings remain world renowned, but his woodcuts and engravings, like those he did for Jerrold, are where he really excelled as an artist with an individual vision.

The completed book, London: A Pilgrimage, with 180 engravings, was published in 1872. It enjoyed commercial success, but the work was disliked by many contemporary critics. Some of these critics were concerned with the fact that Doré appeared to focus on the poverty that existed in parts of London. Doré was accused by the Art Journal of "inventing rather than copying." The Westminster Review claimed that "Doré gives us sketches in which the commonest, the vulgarest external features are set down." The book was a financial success, however, and Doré received commissions from other British publishers.

His later works included Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Milton's Paradise Lost, Tennyson's The Idylls of the King, The Works of Thomas Hood, and The Divine Comedy. His work also appeared in the Illustrated London News.

He continued to illustrate books until his death in Paris in 1883. The city's Père Lachaise Cemetery contains his grave.

"Epigram for Wall Street" Published 1845

I'll tell you a plan for gaining wealth,
Better than banking, trade or leases —
Take a bank note and fold it up,
And then you will find your money in creases!
This wonderful plan, without danger or loss,
Keeps your cash in your hands, where nothing can trouble it;
And every time that you fold it across,
'Tis as plain as the light of the day that you double it!

-The End-

Epigram for Wall Street (1845) was printed in the New York Evening Mirror on January 23, 1845, the poem is generally accepted as being written by Poe, though it was published anonymously. Interestingly, the title neglected to capitalize "street." The humorous poem of four rhyming couplets tells savvy people interested in gaining wealth to avoid investments and banks. Instead, it suggests, fold your money in half, thereby doubling it.

It appears Oliver Stone has doubled down on Wall Street.