I sure didn’t.
When it comes to literary greats, inspiration can come from anywhere. For famed gothic writer Edgar Allen Poe, one idea came from a raven, which inspired his famous poem of the same name about the foreboding bird. Now that little black muse is enshrined in a history exhibit for all to see.
The actual bird that inspired the gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door can now be found by the public in the flesh (well, you know what I mean), as part of a new exhibit at the Philadelphia Public Library.
Named Grip, the pet raven was actually owned by author Charles Dickens—and was preserved by a taxidermist upon its death. The archive exhibit is in honor of what would be Dickens’ 200th birthday.
The raven appeared as a minor character in Dickens’ novel Barnaby Rudge, which Poe panned in a Saturday Evening Post review of the book in 1841. His biggest gripe? The raven didn’t get enough play.
The creepy bird imagery apparently stuck with Poe, because in 1845 he decided to give the raven the terrifying tale he deserved, writing “The Raven.”
For a little chaser, here’s Vincent Price putting his own distinctive spin on that famous poem: