Edgar Allan Poe, 1809 - 1849
Fun Facts About Edgar Allan Poe
- Poe was born in Boston, MA
- His father David Poe was bred as a lawyer, but deeply offended his family by marrying an actress of English birth, Mrs. Elizabeth Hopkins, neé Arnold, and by himself going on the stage. In 1811 he and his wife died, leaving three children — William, Edgar, and a daughter Rosalie — wholly destitute.
- Edgar was adopted by John Allan, a tobacco merchant of Scottish extraction, seemingly at the request of his wife, who was childless.
- Poe attended the University of Virginia at Charlottesville in 1826…until he had to drop out due to lack of money. It seems that Poe had a gambling problem, and his foster father got tired of bailing him out.
- Broke, Poe lied about his age and joined the army. He served two years…and then got himself dismissed by court martial.
- His life immediately after he left West Point is very obscure, but in 1833 he was living at Baltimore with his paternal aunt, Mrs. Clemm, who was throughout life his protector, and, in so far as extreme poverty permitted, his support.
- In 1827 Poe had published his first volume of poetry, Tamerlane and other Poems, at Boston. He did not publish under his name, but as “A Bostonian.” In 1831 he published a volume of Poems under his name at New York.
- In 1833 he won a prize of $100 offered for the best story by the Baltimore Saturday Visitor. He would have won the prize for the best poem if the judges had not thought it wrong to give both rewards to one competitor.
- The story, MS. found in a Bottle, is one of the most mediocre of his tales, but his success gave him an introduction to editors and publishers, who were attracted by his striking personal appearance and his fine manners, and were also touched by his manifest poverty.
- His famous poem “The Raven” was published first in 1845, and soon became extraordinarily popular; but Poe only got $10 or $15 for it (the exact amount is often debated.)
- Poe’s short stories featuring C. Auguste Dupin shaped the modern mystery story so much that Arthur Conan Doyle compared Sherlock Holmes to Dupin, and the Mystery Writers of America give an award named the Edgar—after Poe, of course.
- Among his masterpieces are the short stories The Pit and the Pendulum, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Masque of the Red Death, The Fall of the House of Usher, and The Gold Bug.
- In 1835 he married his cousin, Virginia Clemm, a beautiful girl of fourteen years of age. A false statement as to her age was made at the time of the marriage. She died after a long decline in 1847.
- Poe made two attempts to marry women of fortune — Mrs. Whitman and Mrs. Shelton. The first of these engagements was broken off. The second was terminated by his death.
- Poe died of tuberculosis on October 7th, 1849 in Baltimore, MD
- Poe’s bizarre life didn’t stop just because he died in 1849. He was buried in an unmarked grave, and when gossip finally led to a stone being ordered, it was destroyed in a train accident.
- Ever since 1949, someone has left a bottle of cognac and some roses on Poe’s grave. Who is leaving these things? And why?
- Edgar Allen Poe is one of the featured images on the cover of the 1967 Beatles’ album Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Special thanks to enotes.com and nndb.com
Socrates (469 BCE - 399 BCE)
Fun Facts About Socrates
- Son of the Sculptor Sophroniscus. Husband of Xanthippe, father of several children.
- Socrates served in the Peloponnesian War, dabbled in politics, and then became a stonemason.
- Socrates himself served in the military as a hoplite, or heavy-armed foot-soldier, at the siege of Potidaea, at the battle of Deliurn, and at Amphipolis. We know from Symposium that Socrates was decorated for bravery.
- His financial inheritance from his father allowed him to devote his life to philosophy.
- Socrates was particularly interested in what are often called the five cardinal virtues (held to be such by Socrates’ Greek contemporaries), namely, piety, wisdom, temperance, courage, and justice.
- Invented the process of Philosophical Dialogue.
- Socrates did not create any philosophical works of literature. In fact, his life and method of philosophy are only known to us due to Socrates’ prominent role in Plato’s Dialogues.
- Known as one of the wisest men of all time.
- Socrates believed that ” … no one knowingly does wrong.”
- Socrates believed in the necessity of doing what one thinks is right even in the face of universal opposition, and the need to pursue knowledge even when opposed.
- “Socrates considered it a duty imposed on him by the Delphian god, to cross-question men of all degrees, as to their knowledge, to make them conscious of their ignorance, and so put them in the way of becoming wise.”
- Socrates spent most of his life engaged in discussion with the young aristocrats of Athens. He used this discussion to learn about the nature of topics such as morality and justice, and to inspire deeper reflection upon these topics to battle ignorance.
- His discussions with the citizens of Athens eventually led to his demise. The parents of the young aristocrats did not like the influence Socrates was having on their children. He was charged with lack of piety and corruption of the city’s youth. He was found guilty and sentenced to death by drinking hemlock (a poison).
- It is said that about 557 people attended the trial of Socrates.
Special thanks to www.extremeintellect.com
Holmes Silhouette with Signature Deerstalker Cap and Pipe
Fun Facts About Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes”
- Sherlock means blond, but two of the actors most associated with the role, Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett, both had dark hair.
- The famous deerstalker cap of Holmes was not ascribed to him by Doyle, , but by the illustrator of the stories, Sidney Paget.
- The most famous phrase that was never used in Doyle’s original works was “Elementary, my dear Watson.” This was used in the first sound film to feature the character.
- Doyle did write Holmes saying, “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” This may be the most famous actual quote of the character.
- Holmes’ best friend and biographer is Dr. Watson. Watson has a bullet wound that was first described as being in the shoulder, but in another story the wound had moved to the leg.
- Holmes’ most famous nemesis was Professor Moriarty; however he only appeared in two stories, The Final Problem and The Valley of Fear. But, Holmes’ description of him as the “Napoleon of Crime” as well as the apparent belief that Holmes died fighting him (at least until Holmes returned due to popular demand), his fame is justified.
- Canonically, the only woman to leave a lasting impression on Holmes was Irene Adler. She was also the only person to have beaten Holmes. It is believed by some fans that the two were romantically involved and had a child together. Laurie R King, British author of a series of Sherlock Holmes pastiches, mentioned a son he had with Adler. She is not the first writer to do so.
- Sherlock Holmes is famous for his cold logic, but Doyle believed in spiritualism.
- Doyle became so tired of Holmes that he wrote The Final Problem in order to kill him off. The public’s demands for more stories lead Doyle to resurrect Holmes in The Adventure of the Empty House.
- Nicholas Meyer wrote a book where he gives an explanation for Holmes’ absence during the time between The Final Problem and The Adventure of the Empty House. It is called The Seven Per Cent Solution, and instead of hiding out from dangerous enemies, Holmes is actually in Vienna, getting treatment for his cocaine addiction. His use of cocaine is part of Doyle’s canon.
- Basil of Baker Street, a mouse in a children’s book series, as well as a Disney movie called The Great Mouse Detective was inspired by Holmes. Other characters based on the detective include Dr. House of television’s House, and Shirley Holmes, a teenager in the Canadian series The Adventures of Shirley Holmes. The character of Shirley was Sherlock Holmes’ great grand niece. Doyle set his stories in Victorian England, but other people have put Holmes in many settings, including the 1940’s, battling Nazis and the 22nd century.