October 3 in Literature: Edgar Allan Poe Found Delirious on Streets of Baltimore

The most significant events in the history of books on the 3rd of October

What events of historical note occurred today, October 3, in the worlds of literary history and the history of books? On the 3rd of October, an Elizabethan poet was born, and an important Victorian designer and writer died…

1554: Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke (or 1st Baron Brooke), is born. This English poet and statesman was a friend of Sir Philip Sidney, born the same year as Greville. Sidney would die in his early thirties, in 1586, while on a military campaign in the Netherlands. Greville would be Sidney’s biographer following his friend’s death. Greville’s own death, in 1628, has to be among the more dramatic author deaths in the annals of literary history.

1849: Edgar Allan Poe is found delirious on the streets of Baltimore, wearing somebody else’s clothes, by one Joseph J. Walker. Four days later he would be dead, at just forty years of age. He had helped to invent the detective story, and to define the genre of science fiction, among many other achievements. (Our selection of Poe’s greatest short stories gives a sense of his sheer variety.) ‘Those who dream by day’, he once observed, ‘are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.’

Poe11896: William Morris dies. As well as being an influential artist and designer (perhaps best remembered for his wallpaper designs), Morris was also a popular poet and, as a novelist, was instrumental in laying the groundwork for later fantasy writers such as J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. (His 1896 novel The Well at the World’s End features a character called Gandolf.)

1925: Gore Vidal, American writer, is born. His advice was: ‘Never pass up a chance to have sex or appear on television.’ Among many other achievements, Vidal would be one of the screenwriters on the blockbuster 1959 film Ben-Hur.

1987: Jean Anouilh, French playwright, dies. He is perhaps best known for his plays Antigone (based on Sophocles’ original) and Becket, ou L’Honneur de Dieu (filmed as the 1964 film Becket starring Richard Burton as the doomed twelfth-century Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket).

Next: October 4 in literary history.

Image: Cropped image from the famous E.A. Poe daguerreotype, W.S. Hartshorn (1848 daguerreotype), C.T. Tatman, Wikimedia Commons.

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