"One the greatest and unhappiest of American poets, a master of the horror tale, and the patron saint of the detective story. Edgar Allan Poe first gained critical acclaim in France and England. His reputation in America was relatively slight until the French-influenced writers like Ambroce Bierce, Robert W. Chambers, and representatives of the Lovecraft school created interest in his work.
""The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends and where the other begins?"" (from The Premature Burial, 1844)
Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to parents who were itinerant actors. His father David Poe Jr. died probably in 1810. Elizabeth Hopkins Poe died in 1811, leaving three children. Edgar was taken into the home of a Richmond merchant John Allan. The remaining children were cared for by others. Poe's brother William died young and sister Rosalie become later insane. At the age of five Poe could recite passages of English poetry. Later one of his teachers in Richmond said: ""While the other boys wrote mere mechanical verses, Poe wrote genuine poetry; the boy was a born poet.""
Poe was brought up partly in England (1815-20), where he attended Manor School at Stoke Newington. Later it become the setting for his story 'William Wilson'. Never legally adopted, Poe took Allan's name for his middle name. Poe attended the University of Virginia (1826-27), but was expelled for not paying his gambling debts. This led to quarrel with Allan, who refused to pay the debts. Allan later disowned him. In 1826 Poe became engaged to Elmira Royster, but her parents broke off the engagement. During his stay at the university, Poe composed some tales, but little is known of his apprentice works. In 1827 Poe joined the U.S. Army as a common soldier under assumed name, Edgar A. Perry. He was sent to Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, which provided settings for 'The Gold Bug' (1843) and 'The Balloon Hoax' (1844). Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827), which Poe published at his own expense, sold poorly. It has become one of the rarest volumes in American literary history. In 1830 Poe entered West Point. He was dishonorably discharged next year, for intentional neglect of his duties - apparently as a result of his own determination to be released.
In 1833 Poe lived in Baltimore with his father's sister Mrs. Maria Clemm. After winning a prize of $50 for the short story 'MS Found in a Bottle,' he started career as a staff member of various magazines, among others the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond (1835-37), Burton's Gentleman's Magazine in Philadelphia (1839-40), and Graham's Magazine (1842-43). During these years he wrote some of his best-known stories. Southern Literary Messenger he had to leave partly due to his alcoholism.
In 1836 Poe married his 13-year-old cousin Virginia Clemm. She bust a blood vessel in 1842, and remained a virtual invalid until her death from tuberculosis five years later. After the death of his wife, Poe began to lose his struggle with drinking and drugs. He had several romances, including an affair with the poet Sarah Helen Whitman, who said: ""His proud reserve, his profound melancholy, his unworldliness - may we not say his unearthliness of nature - made his character one very difficult of comprehension to the casual observer."" In 1849 Poe become again engaged to Elmira Royster, who was at that time Mrs. Shelton. To Virginia he addressed the famous poem 'Annabel Lee' (1849) - its subject, Poe's favorite, is the death of a beautiful woman.
For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-time, I lie down by the side
Of my darling - my darling - my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
(from 'Annabel Lee', 1849)
Poe's first collection, Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, appeared in 1840. It contained one of his most famous work, 'The Fall of the House of Usher.' In the story the narrator visits the crumbling mansion of his friend, Roderick Usher, and tries to dispel Roderick's gloom. Although his twin sister, Madeline, has been placed in the family vault dead, Roderick is convinced she lives. Madeline arises in trance, and carries her brother to death. The house itself splits asunder and sinks into the tarn. The tale has inspired several film adaptations. Roger Corman's version from 1960, starring Mark Damon, Harry Ellerbe, Myrna Fahey, and Vincent Price, was the first of the director's Poe movies. The Raven (1963) collected old stars of the horror genre, Vincent Price, Peter, Lorre, and Boris Karloff. According to the director, Price and Lorre ""drove Boris a little crazy"" - the actor was not used to improvised dialogue. Corman filmed the picture in fifteen days, using revamped portions of his previous Poe sets.
In Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (1838), Poe's longest tale, the secret theme is the terror of whiteness. Poe invented tribes that live near the Antarctic Circle. The strange bestial humans are black, even down to their teeth. They have been exposed to the terrible visitations of men and white storms. These are mixed together, and they slaughter the crew of Pym's vessel. The Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges has assumed that Poe chose the color intuitively, or for the same reasons as in Melville explained in the chapter 'The Whiteness of the Whale' in his Moby-Dick. Later the 'lost world' idea was developed by Edgar Rice Burroughs in The Land That Time Forgot (1924) and other works.
During the early 1840s, Poe's best-selling work was curiously The Conchologist's First Book (1839). It was based on Thomas Wyatt's work, which sold poorly because of its high prize. Wyatt was Poe's friend and asked him to abridge the book and put his own name on its title page - the publisher had strongly opposed any idea of producing a cheaper edition. The Conchologist's First Book was a success. Its first edition was sold out in two months and other editions followed.
The dark poem of lost love, 'The Raven,' brought Poe national fame, when it appeared in 1845. ""With me poetry has been not a purpose, but a passion; and the passions should be held in reverence: they must not - they cannot at will be excited, with an eye to the paltry compensations, or the more paltry commendations, of mankind."" (from The Raven and Other Poems, preface, 1845) In a lecture in Boston the author said that the two most effective letters in the English language were o and r - this inspired the expression ""nevermore"" in 'The Raven', and because a parrot is unworthy of the dignity of poetry, a raven could well repeat the word at the end of each stanza. Lenore rhymed with ""nevermore."" The poems has inspired a number of artists. Perhaps the most renowed are Gustave Dor‚'s (1832-1883) melancholic illustrations.
Poe suffered from bouts of depression and madness, and he attempted suicide in 1848. In September the following year he disappeared for three days after a drink at a birthday party and on his way to visit his new fianc‚e in Richmond. He turned up in delirious condition in Baltimore gutter and died on October 7, 1849.
Poe's work and his theory of ""pure poetry"" was early recognized especially in France, where he inspired Jules Verne, Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), Paul Val‚ry (1871-1945) and St‚phane Mallarm‚ (1842-1898). ""In Edgar Poe,"" wrote Baudelaire, ""there is no tiresome snivelling; but everywhere and at all times an indefatigable enthusiasm in seeking the ideal."" In America Emerson called him ""the jingle man."" Poe's influence is seen in many other modern writers, as in Junichiro Tanizaki's early stories and Kobo Abe's novels, or more clearly in the development of the19th century detective novel. J.L. Borges, R.L. Stevenson, and a vast general readership, have been impressed by the stories which feature Poe's detective Dupin ('The Murders in the Rue Morgue', 1841; 'The Purloined Letter,' 1845) and the morbid metaphysical speculation of 'The Facts in the Case of M. Waldermar' (1845). Thomas M. Disch has argued in his The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of (1998) that it was actually Poe who was the originator of the modern science fiction. One of his tales, 'Mellonta Taunta' (1840) describes a future society, an anti-Utopia, in which Poe satirizes his own times. Another tales in this vein are 'The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Sceherazade' and 'A Descent into the Maelstrom'. However, Poe was not concerned with any specific scientific concept but mostly explored different realities, one of the central concerns of science fiction ever since.
In his supernatural fiction Poe usually dealt with paranoia rooted in personal psychology, physical or mental enfeeblement, obsessions, the damnation of death, feverish fantasies, the cosmos as source of horror and inspiration, without bothering himself with such supernatural beings as ghosts, werewolves, vampires, and so on. Some of his short stories are humorous, among them 'The Devil in the Belfry,' 'The Duc de l'Omelette,' 'Bon-Bon' and 'Never Bet the Devil Your Head,' all of which employ the Devil as an ironic figure of fun. - Poe was also one of the most prolific literary journalists in American history, one whose extensive body of reviews and criticism has yet to be collected fully. James Russell Lowell (1819-91) once wrote about Poe: ""Three fifths of him genius and two fifths sheer fudge."" "
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is the creator Sherlock Holmes, the best-known detective in literature and the embodiment of scientific thinking. Doyle himself was not a good example of rational personality: he believed in fairies and was interested in occultism. Sherlock Holmes stories have been translated into more than fifty languages, and made into plays, films, radio and television series, a musical comedy, a ballet, cartoons, comic books, and advertisement. By 1920 Doyle was one of the most highly paid writers in the world.
Doyle was born on May 22, 1859 at Picardy Place, Edinburgh, as the son of Charles Altamont Doyle, a civil servant in the Edinburgh Office of Works, and Mary (Foley) Doyle. Both of Doyle's parents were Roman Catholics. His father suffered from epilepsy and alcoholism and was eventually institutionalized. Charles Altamont died in an asylum in 1893. In the same year Doyle decided to finish permanently the adventures of his master detective. Because of financial problems, Doyle's mother kept a boarding house. Dr. Tsukasa Kobayashi has suspected in an article, that Doyle's mother had a long affair with Bryan Charles Waller, a lodger and a student of pathology, who had a deep impact to Conan Doyle.
Doyle was educated in Jesuit schools. He studied at Edinburgh University and in 1884 he married Louise Hawkins. Doyle qualified as doctor in 1885. After graduation Doyle practiced medicine as an eye specialist at Southsea near Porsmouth in Hampshire until 1891 when he became a full time writer.
First story about Holmes, A STUDY IN SCARLET, was published in 1887 in 'Beeton Christmas Annual.'. The novel was written in three weeks in 1886. It introduced the detective and his associate and friend, Dr. Watson, and made famous Holmes's address at Mrs. Hudson's house, 221B Baker Street, London. Their major opponent was the malevolent Moriarty, the classic evil genius who was a kind of doppelgänger of Holmes. Also the beautiful opera singer Irene Adler caused much trouble to Holmes.
The second Sherlock Holmes story, THE SIGN OF FOUR, was written for the Lippincott's Magazine in 1890. The story collects a colorful group of people together, among them Jonathan Small who has a wooden leg and a dwarf from Tonga islands. In the Strand Magazine started to appear 'The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.'
In 1893 Doyle was so wearied of his famous detective that he devised his death in the Final Problem (published in the Strand). In the story Holmes meets Moriarty at the fall of the Reichenbach in Switzerland and disappears. Watson finds a letter from Homes, stating "I have already explained to you, however, that my career had in any case reached its crisis, and that no possible conclusion to it could be more congenial to me than this."
In THE HOUND OF BASKERVILLES (1902) Doyle narrated an early case of the dead detective. The murder weapon in the story is an animal.
He was knighted ("Sir Arthur") in 1902 for his work in Boer War propaganda (particularly the pamphlet The War in South Africa: Its Cause and Conduct) -- and, some said, because of the publication of THE HOUND OF BASKERVILLES.
Owing to public demand Doyle resurrected his popular hero in The Empty House (1903).
"I moved my head to look at the cabinet behind me. When I turned again Sherlock Holmes was standing smiling at me across my study table. I rose to my feet, stared at him for some seconds in utter amazement, and then it appears that I must have fainted for the first and last time in my life."
---(from 'The Empty House')
In these later stories Holmes stops using cocaine. Sherlock Holmes short stories were collected in five books. They first appeared in 1892 under the title THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES. The later were THE MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1894), THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1904), HIS LAST BOW (1917), and THE CASEBOOK OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1927).
During the South African war (1899-1902) Doyle served for a few months as senior physician at a field hospital, and wrote THE WAR IN SOUTH AFRICA, in which he took the imperialistic view. In 1900 and 1906 he ran unsuccessfully for Parliament. Doyle was knighted in 1902. Fourteen months after his wife died, Conan Doyle married in 1907 his second wife, Jean Leckie. He dedicated himself in spiritualistic studies after the death of his son Kingsley from wounds incurred in World War I. An example of these is THE COMING OF FAIRIES, in which he supported the existence of "little people" and spent more than a million dollars on their cause. He also became president of several important spiritualist organizations.
Conan Doyle's other publications include plays, verse, memoirs, short stories, and several historical novels and supernatural and speculative fiction. His stories of Professor George Edward Challenger in THE LOST WORLD and other adventures blended science fact with fantastic romance, and were very popular. The model for the professor was William Rutherford, Doyle's teacher from Edinburgh. Doyle's practice, and other experiences, seven months in the Arctic as ship's doctor on a whaler, and three on a steamer bound to the West Coast of Africa, provided material for his writings.
Doyle died on July 7, 1930 from heart disease at his home, Windlesham, Sussex.
"My contention is that Sherlock Holmes is literature on a humble but not ignoble level, whereas the mystery writers most in vogue now are not. The old stories are literature, not because of the conjuring tricks and the puzzles, not because of the lively melodrama, which they have in common with many other detective stories, but the virtue of imagination and style. They are fairy-tales, as Conan Doyle intimated in his preface to his last collection, and they are among the most amusing of fairy-tales and not among the least distinguished."
Herbert George Wells, the son of an unsuccessful tradesman, was born in Bromley on 21st September, 1866. After a basic education at a local school, Wells was apprenticed as a draper. Wells disliked the work and in 1883 became a pupil-teacher at Midhurst Grammar School. While at Midhurst Wells won a scholarship to the School of Science where he was taught biology by T. H. Huxley. Wells found Huxley an inspiring teacher and as a result developed a strong interest in evolution. Wells founded and edited the Science Schools Journal while at university. Wells was disappointing with the teaching he received in the second year and so in 1887 he left without obtaining a degree.
Wells spent the next few years teaching and writing and in 1891 his major essay on science, The Rediscovery of the Unique, was published in The Fortnightly Review. In 1895 Wells established himself as a novelist in 1895 with his science fiction story, The Time Machine. This was followed by two more successful novels, The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896) and The War of the Worlds (1898).
Wells also became very popular in the United States. The popular magazine Cosmopolitan serialised two of his books, The War of the Worlds (1897) and First Man in the Moon (1900). His work also appeared in Collier's Magazine, the New Republic and the Saturday Evening Post.
Wells also began writing non-fiction books about politics, technology and the future. This included Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress Upon Human Life and Thought (1901), The Discovery of the Future (1902) and Mankind in the Making (1903). These books impressed the three leaders of the Fabian Society, George Bernard Shaw, Sidney Webb and Beatrice Webb. Wells accepted their suggestion that he should join the society.
Once a member of the Fabian Society, Wells tried to change it. Rather than a small group of intellectuals discussing socialist reform, Wells thought that it should be a large pressure group agitating for change. When the existing leadership resisted these ideas, Wells attempted to gain control of the organisation. Wells managed to gain election to the Fabian Society's Executive Committee but gained little support for change from the rest of the group.
Wells resigned from the Fabian Society in 1908 but continued to be active in the campaign for socialism. His book A Modern Utopia expressed a desire for a society that was run and organised by humanistic and well-educated people. Wells, who was extremely critical of the role that privilege and hereditary factors in capitalist society and in his utopia, people gain power as a result of their intelligence and training.
In his early scientific writings Wells predicted the invention of modern weapons such as the tank and the atom bomb. He was therefore horrified by the outbreak of the First World War. Unlike many socialists, he supported Britain's involvement in the war, however, he believed politicians should use this opportunity to create a new world order.
Wells was encouraged by the news of the communist revolution in Russia. He visited the country and lectured Lenin and Trotsky on how they should run their country. Wells was disillusioned by what he saw in Russia and in 1920 Wells published The Outline of History. The book described human history since the earliest times and attempted to show how society had evolved to the present state. Wells illustrated the triumphs and failures and pointed out the dangers that faced the human race. The main theme of The Outline of History was that the world would be saved by education and not by revolution.
Wells book was widely discussed and the abridged version, A Short History of the World, published in 1922, sold in large numbers. Wells was now considered to be one of the world's most important political thinkers and during the 1920s and 30s he was in great demand as a contributor to newspapers and journals. In his books and articles H. G. Wells argued that society had reached the stage where it needed world government and strongly supported the League of Nations that was established after the First World War. Wells also stressed that society needed to establish structures that ensured that the most intelligent gained power. Some socialists criticised Wells claiming that he was now preaching a form of elitism.
In his novel The Shape of Things to Come published in 1933, Wells describes a world that had been devastated by decades of war and was now being rebuilt by the use of humanistic technology. In 1936 the book was turned into a very successful film.
In 1934 Wells visited the Soviet Union and the United States. Although Wells clearly preferred what Roosevelt was trying to do, some people believed he was far too sympathetic to Stalin. One of his main critics was his old adversary at the Fabian Society, George Bernard Shaw.
Wells was appalled by the outbreak of the Second World War and wrote extensively about the need to make sure that we used the conflict to establish a new, rational world order. Herbert George Wells died on 13th August, 1946, while working on a project that dealt with the dangers of nuclear war.