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in the arts? A: I think every artist a bit troubled, and I think every artist pulls inspiration from that. My father, the rotten scoundrel, abandoned us when I was 2. Then, the same year, my mother died. Both my siblings were given away to other families. I was taken by the Allan family and we moved to England, where I was schooled in a prestigious school outside of London. My instructor there thought I had a talent for it and encouraged me to write. Although I had other interests; I loved to swim and was fond of athletics, I found that I could aptly express myself with a pen. Even though I lived most of my life in poverty, I did experience some success and was one of the earliest American writers to make a living by writing alone. This unfortunately was the reason I lived in poverty. That along with some other vices! Q2: What roles did mentors play in helping you develop the interests and talents you have as an artist? A: Although I had encouragement from some teachers or instructors, I would have to say that I can considered myself a trail blazer in the type of writings that I preferred, such as short stories and poems. I did admire some of my contemporaries and also loathed some others who were thought by most to be in high esteem. At the age of five I could recite passages of English poetry. Later one of my teachers in Richmond said: "While the other boys wrote mere mechanical verses, Poe wrote genuine poetry; the boy was a born poet." (Petri Liukkonen, 2008). Besides that, I was mostly solo. My early life was filled with a lot of grief from the deaths of my parents, my step mother, and my step father disowning me because of my gambling and drinking. Even though I was desolate at times he would not afford me an allowance or even a mere pittance to substantiate a meager existence. When he died I was not mentioned in the will, even though I had accepted his name Allan as part of mine. Q3: What was the world of art like in your particular art field when you entered it? A: In the early 1800s, the country had few American authors. Although many books were written, there was no one who made their living solely as a writer. Most people read newspapers and gazettes that were filled with short stories and poetry. In fact, I entered many of these contests and submitted some of my best stories. At one point, I entered a contest in 1832 for The Saturday Courier in Baltimore. I lost out to Delia S. Bacon to a sentimental story entitled Love s Martyr . Not only did I not win the contest, but the Courier had my stories, which they published throughout 1832, I didn t receive a dime for them. The copyright laws were different then and mine were not copyrighted. (Zachary Kent, 2001) Then, in the spring of 1833, I added 6 new stories to my Tales of the Folio Club and as well submitted a new poem to The Saturday Visitor on October 19th, 1833. I entitled it The Coliseum , and in June of that year, I won fifty dollars for the short stories and I was told I would have also won for the poem, but they didn t want to give both prizes to the same person. The story that won was called MS Found in a Bottle and it was published in The Saturday Visitor. I was so happy that I won, I visited each
of the three judges. One of the judges was a Baltimore lawyer and writer named John Pendleton Kennedy, who was so impressed with me that he recommended me for a job with the Southern Literary Messenger. (Zachary Kent, 2001) Q4: How did the major cultural, economic, and political situations of the time impact your work? A: At an early age, my mother died and I was taken in by wealthy step-parents. Thus, I was able to travel to England and was schooled as a person of high status, but I had no wealth of my own or my family s and as a college student at the University of Virginia, I engaged in gambling, drinking, and sometimes fighting and before long was $2000 in debt. My stepfather refused to pay and pulled me out of school. I came home disgraced and penniless. (Zachary Kent, 2001) Although I had lived part of my life as a man of means, I would spend the majority of the rest of my life in poverty. This time in history, there was still slavery. In fact, some of my classmates at the University of Virginia brought their slaves with them when they came to school. The Industrial Revolution had not yet taken a grip on the country so that there were not a lot of jobs to be had for common people. If you didn t have a trade or an inheritance, you were probably in poverty. (Zachary Kent, 2001) Q5: What were your major accomplishments and the methods you used in your arts? A: My major accomplishments were that I was the first American author who wrote stories of the macabre and the frightening. I was able to write suspenseful, descriptive stories of murder and mystery and dark subjects that were not in favor at the time for most American readers. Although I wrote a full novel, I was more at ease writing short stories. I found that the ordinary novel is objectionable, from its length... As it cannot be read at one sitting, it deprives itself, of course, of the immense force derivable from totality." In other words, as soon as a reader sets a book aside, the effect of suspense or excitement is lost. The best stories let you keep that feeling straight through, from beginning to end. (Jill Lepore, 2009) I am also known as the father of the mystery novel. In fact, the award for the best mystery novel is called THE EDGAR, quite an honor. I was able to write in such a manner that things like murder, betrayal, and sadness were presented in such a way that the reader was intrigued and given to thought as to how something like this could ve occurred instead of being turned off because it was a subject that wasn t popular in other s writings. (Zachary Kent, 2004) Q6: What were the key opportunities you had that led to turning points in your life and art? A: I don t know if you d call them opportunities . There were many tragic and sad events in my life that left me alone and struggling to survive. The deaths of many of the women that I loved; my mother, my step-mother, and my wife at the age of 20. Her name was Virginia Clemm and I loved her very much. She died of consumption or as you would know it, as tuberculosis. My brother also died at the age of 24 of the same disease. This left me with little to do, but write and drink. This dark misery that I found myself in would be the inspiration for many of my stories and poems. (Zachary Kent, 2001) After winning the writing contest and meeting Mr. Kennedy, he recommended me to Thomas White, who invited me to join the staff of the Southern Literary Messenger as an assistant editor for the
salary of $10 a week. While there, I reviewed 4 books in 1835 and inserted 3 of my stories. I could also show my talent in editing, reviewing, and writing. (Zachary Kent, 2001) Q7: What personal choices did you make to become successful? A: I knew at an early age that I wanted to be a writer. I thought that was the best way to express myself and although I was a published author and somewhat of a celebrity, in Richmond, Virginia and Baltimore, Maryland, I never really was able, at any point in my life, to live comfortably from writing. I was one of the first American authors to try living on just my wages as a writer. (Zachary Kent, 2001) Success can be determined in many different ways. My most famous poem and probably the thing that I am most well known for is The Raven . It is the reason the town that I died in calls their football team The Ravens. I was paid $10 for it. (Zachary Kent, 2001) Q8: What hardships or roadblocks did you have to overcome to be an artist? A: I grew up without the love of my parents. My brother died at 24. My sister ended up in an institution. We were all separated when my mother died when I was 2. The woman who raised me and who I loved very much also died when she was very young. I didn t get along with my stepfather, who I felt abandoned me and left me to fend for myself many times in horrible conditions. When I left college, deep in debt, and returned home, the woman who I loved and was planning to marry rejected me and when I returned home, I learned she was promised to another man. Thus, I was so bitter; I wrote the poem Tamerlane . (Zachary Kent, 2001) Although I had many good jobs for a writer, such as myself, with well known, established newspapers, my drinking and events in my personal life kept me from holding these positions for very long. Twice in my adult life, after the death of my only true love, Virginia, I tried to marry a wealthy woman. The first one who loved me would only marry me if I would give up drinking. I could not and she left. The second woman I was going to marry after my visit in Virginia was named Elmira Royster Shelton, the same woman I had loved so many years before and I died on my way to see her. (Zachary Kent, 2001) Q9: What kind of limitations did run into as an artist and a person? A: I never had the money and the stature that I felt I was entitled to. I lived far below the means of a man of my talent and intelligence. The women in my life often seemed to die before I was fully able to spend time with them and appreciate them. As I said before, the Industrial Revolution had not kicked in yet. So many people, like I, were out of jobs and money and it was hard making a living as a writer who specialized in short stories and poems. (Zachary Kent, 2001) I found when creating a new style of writing, where as many people of my time were still of the Victorian age, where the books were very religious and main stream and people weren t used to reading about the subjects that I felt I had to write about. Some of my great stories, such as The House of Usher , The Cask of Amontillado , and The Tell Tale Heart weren t anywhere close to being favored reading for the masses in the early 1800s. (Zachary Kent, 2001) Q10: What personal stories best illustrate how you became successful in the arts?
A: Many of my stories come from the pain and the dark circumstances from my life. The feelings of rejection and dire poverty mixed with my drinking and fits of depression paint somewhat of a gloomy page that I felt comfortable writing on. As an example, I wrote the story Tamerlane when I returned from college to find that the woman I loved was to be married to someone else and wouldn t see me. The story is about a man who leaves his childhood sweetheart to pursue his ambition and as a result, loses her. (Zachary Kent, 2001) After my death, the scoundrel that hated me wrote a biography about me that slandered me and for many years, people believed that book that he wrote to be the truth for my last years on this earth. I am full of dark forebodings. Nothing cheers or comforts me. My life seems wasted-the future looks a dreary blank ..I will struggle on and hope against hope . (Zachary Kent, 2001).