By Dan Miller
March 6, 2009
As a kid, I always figured that famous literary figures were, in their time, joyful in their fame, and probably rolling in money.
Through adult eyes it becomes clear that every person struggles with issues of some sort in their lives.
That certainly includes the most talented and honored individuals.
In truth, people who possess great gifts, or fame, often struggle more than "ordinary" folks.
He's considered one of America's greatest writers of short stories and poetry.
He popped into my mind this week when I read an account -- by Associated Press writer Zinie Chen Sampson -- of a letter Poe sent to his New York publishers in 1842.
In the letter, Poe apologized to the publisher for his drinking and "misbehaving on a trip to New York."
He explained how he really hoped they would buy an article he had written, because he was "desperately pushed for money."
The article was rejected by the publisher.
Poe would live for only seven years after writing that letter, and spent most of that time in desperate need of money.
Earlier in his life he had been forced to drop out of the University of Virginia because he had no money.
Here in 2009, the University of Virginia is presenting an exhibit of Poe's enduring literary works, marking his 200th birthday.
As part of the exhibit, the university purchased that letter I just wrote about.
They won't disclose what they paid for the letter but, 21 years ago, when it sold at auction to a private collector, it brought $26,000, so I'm guessing it sold for considerably more than that now.
Edgar Allan Poe was an exceptional literary figure.
Three of several places where he lived are now preserved as Historic Sites.
He influenced and inspired such literary giants as Thomas Hardy, Joseph Conrad, Arthur Conan Doyle and James Joyce.
Alfred Lord Tennyson referred to Poe as, "the most original genius that America has produced."
His works have been savored and studied by untold millions of people.
Yet, when Edgar Allan Poe was found lying sick and delirious on the streets of Baltimore in 1849, he was wearing someone else's clothes.
He died 4 days later.
He was only 40 years old.
He looked much older.