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The Poet of Halloween The Poet of Halloween

American Masters, Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive

Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive

Monday, Oct. 30, at 9 p.m.
Repeats Tuesday, Oct. 31, at 3 a.m.

Also airs on Fusion on Friday, Nov. 3, at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 4, at 3 p.m.

After his death, writer Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) became a global icon of modern literature and a pop culture brand. Best known for his Gothic horror tales and narrative poem “The Raven,” Poe’s stories are the basis of countless films and TV episodes, and have inspired even more, as has his name and image. At least four American cities claim this literary legend as their own—Baltimore, Richmond, Philadelphia and New York; an NFL football team is named after one of his poems; and his image appears on everything from the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album cover to lunch boxes, bobbleheads and socks. Creating the detective fiction genre with “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (1841), Poe wrote over 100 short stories and poems altogether, beginning with “Tamerlane and Other Poems” (1827), his first published work.

Starring Denis O’Hare and narrated by Kathleen Turner, AMERICAN MASTERS, “Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive” explores the misrepresentations of Poe as a drug-addled madman akin to the narrators of his horror stories. Kevin Smith, as well as colleagues and friends, demonstrate his collaborative spirit and process.

About Edgar Allan Poe
In biography the truth is everything.—Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston on Jan.19, 1809, the son of two actors. By the time he was three years old, his father had abandoned the family and his mother had succumbed to consumption.

Poe was taken in by John Allan, a wealthy Richmond merchant and an austere Scotsman. His wife, Francis, became a second mother to Poe until, like Poe’s mother, she died.

After abandoning a military career during which he published his first book of poetry, Poe landed in Baltimore and took refuge with an aunt, Maria Clemm, and her 13-year-old daughter, Virginia, whom he would later marry despite a significant age difference.

During the 1830s and ’40s, Poe moved between Philadelphia and New York as editor of and contributor to some of America’s most popular magazines. Poe achieved his greatest triumph in 1845 when his poem “The Raven” was published to great acclaim.

Despite his success, Poe remained impoverished and all but destitute. At times he drank heavily and behaved erratically. In 1847, his young and beloved wife, like his mother, died of tuberculosis. Her death drove Poe into a deep depression.

In 1849, during a period of recovery and relative optimism, Poe traveled the east coast, working toward achieving his dream of starting his own magazine, The Stylus. Reportedly ill, Poe arrived in Baltimore in late September 1849 and then mysteriously vanished for five days. When he reappeared he was delirious and wearing clothes not his own. He never regained his senses and four days later, on Oct. 7, 1849, he died.

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