There is a great deal of information, but very few verifiable facts about poet, critic and short story writer Edgar Allan Poe. He is considered by many to be the master of gut-twisting stories of terror and the macabre, but everything about him is controversial, literally from the place and date of his birth to the exact location and date of his burial. There is no birth certificate, and although Poe seems to have known that he was born in Boston in 1809, most biographies claimed until 1880 that he was born in Baltimore in 1811. Poe himself once even gave 1813 as the date, two years after his mother’s death.
As for Poe’s burial, both October 8 and 9 have been recorded. Since no headstone was placed over Poe’s grave when he was buried, some sources have claimed it as to the right of his grandfather, others to the left. Among the numerous inaccuracies is the fable that Poe joined the Greeks in their fight for liberty in 1828. (While at West Point, the jokester Poe merrily spread rumors that he was the grandson of Benedict Arnold.)
In this selection, actor Basil Rathbone (1892-1967), who appeared in over eighty films including “Captain Blood,” “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” and “The Comedy of Terrors,” reads from one of Poe’s most well-known stories, “The Pit and the Pendulum,” courtesy of HarperAudio. Listen now.