The Most Enlightening Edgar Allan Poe Trivia Quiz

By: Julie Medina
Image: Youtube

About This Quiz

Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” numbers among the best known poems in national literature. But what else do you know about the man’s life, his works, and maladies? Take this Trivia Quiz and become enlightened about this famous writer, critic, poet and editor.

Which author wrote this? “Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.”

This is from Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven. The rest of the stanza is, But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token, And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?" This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore:" Merely this and nothing more.

What was the poem, The Raven about?

It tells of a talking raven's mysterious visit to a distraught lover, tracing the man's slow fall into madness. The poem begins with “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore – “.

That was a poem, but what about his famous tales? What was the plot of "The Fall of the House of Usher?"

The illness, a hypersensitivity to textures, lights, sounds, smells and taste inflicts the twins. The sister falls into a cataleptic, deathlike trances, and is pronounced dead by the friend. Usher felt his sister was still alive when entombed, and now she has come back to haunt and kill him.

Who presents the annual Edgar Award for distinguished work in the mystery genre?

The Mystery Writers of America present an annual award known as the Edgar Award for distinguished work in the mystery genre. This tradition has been continuing since the first award was given for Murder, My Sweet and Ellery Queen in 1946.

What did Edgar Allan Poe die off?

It’s not completely clear of what, “congestion of the brain” could mean as a cause of death. There is speculation that it could be everything from alcoholism to rabies.

Another famous Poe story: What was “The Tell-Tale Heart” about?

The story was first published in James Russell Lowell 's The Pioneer in January 1843. The narrator (and murderer) become undone when the heartbeat of the dead old man becomes louder and louder, driving him mad, and making him confess to the crime.

What was “The Pit and the Pendulum” about?

It was about the Spanish Inquisition and the journey of the mind within these torturous devices. The lowering of the razor-sharp pendulum heightens suspense at each swing. The tale has been adapted to film several times; The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), The Pit and the Pendulum (1991), The Pendulum, the Pit and Hope (1984) and An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe (1970).

What was the plot in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Purloined Letter?”

"The Purloined Letter" is considered his finest story. This is partially due to the fact that there are no Gothic elements, such as the gruesome descriptions of dead bodies. It is a pure mystery, using logic, observation and wits to solve the crime.

Favorite quotes! Now that you’re acquainted with the poems and prose, see if you can match them to the quote. Where does this quote come from? “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary.”

The Raven, the poem that gave him national and international recognition. The rest of the poem continues with, "Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,— %0DWhile I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, as of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. 'T is some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door; only this and nothing more."

Which short story does this quote come from? “As a poet and as a mathematician, he would reason well; as a mere mathematician, he could not have reasoned at all.”

The Purloined letter, a story that is devoid of elements of horror. The story is built around logic, reasoning and deduction to solve the crime of a letter that was taken from a woman of royalty and although she knew the culprit, could not find the letter even though she is aided by the head of the French Police.

In which of Poe’s stories would you find this line? "I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed listening; — just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall."

The Tell-Tale Heart, a story of a murder’s guilt, has this wonderfully written prose. The old man was listening while his killer was in his room. The killer is the narrator, who is describing each part of the plan which ends with the old man being killed.

Which short story does this quote come from? “They who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who dream only by night.”

The narrator in the Tell-Tale Heart uses the quote to illustrate to the reader how clever and sane he is – although he plotted and carried out a murder. Throughout the story he tries to impress the reader with how well planned and executed the murder was. And it was well planned, in fact, he got away it, until he confessed.

What is the one word the Raven can say?

The poem reads, "Nothing further then he uttered, not a feather then he fluttered, till I scarcely more than muttered, "Other friends have flown before; %0DOn the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before." Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

Which author wrote this? "There came a light tap at the library door, and pale as the tenant of a tomb, a menial entered upon tiptoe. His looks were wild with terror, and he spoke to me in a voice tremulous, husky, and very low..."

He wrote this in his short story entitled "Berenice" in 1835. The story follows a man named Egaeus who is preparing to marry his cousin Berenice. He has a tendency to fall into periods of intense focus during which he seems to separate himself from the outside world. Berenice begins to deteriorate from an unnamed disease until the only part of her remaining healthy is her teeth, which become the object of Egaeus' obsession. Berenice is buried, and Egaeus continues to contemplate her teeth. One day Egaeus wakes up from a period of focus with an uneasy feeling, and the sound of screams in his ears. A servant startles him by telling him Berenice's grave has been disturbed, and she is still alive; but beside Egaeus is a shovel, a poem about "visiting the grave of my beloved" and a box containing 32 blood-stained teeth.

How well do you know your authors? Which author wrote this? “And so being young and dipt in folly, I fell in love with melancholy.”

Edgar Allan Poe wrote this in the poem entitled “Romance”. He wrote romance, horror and mystery, a multi-talented writer and critic. Here is a bit of that poem: And so, being young and dipt in folly I fell in love with melancholy, and used to throw my earthly rest and quiet all away in jest —I could not love except where Death, was mingling his with Beauty’s breath —

Where does this quote come from? “Who has not, a hundred times, found himself committing a vile or a silly action for no other reason than because he knows he should not?”

If you recall the short story, he kept hurting his black cat which then seemed to come back to life to haunt him.

Now let’s see how much you know about the man himself. When was Edgar Allan Poe born?

Edgar Allen Poe was born January 19, 1809 and died at age 40 on October 7, 1849. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He attended school in London and suburban Stoke-Newington until 1820, then continued his schooling in Richmond until 1825. He became a student at the University of Virginia in 1826.

What did Poe’s parents do for a living?

His parents were touring actors. He was the second child of English-born actress Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe and actor David Poe, Jr.. Elizabeth Arnold came to the U.S. from England in 1796 and married David Poe after her first husband died in 1805.

Poe’s father left the family early on. What happened to his mother?

Poe became an orphan at three years old when his mother passed away from consumption (pulmonary tuberculosis). Edgar was the second of three children, although he hardly got to know his siblings before they were separated which was immediately upon their mother passing.

The siblings were separated upon the death of their mother. Where did Poe find himself?

Poe went directly to live with John and Frances Allan, a successful Scottish merchant in Richmond, Virginia who dealt in a variety of goods. This was a foster home, and he was never formally adopted although they cared for him throughout most of his life. Mr. Allan would rear Poe to be a businessman and a Virginia gentleman, but Poe had dreams of being a writer in emulation of his childhood hero the British poet Lord Byron. Early poetic verses found written in a young Poe’s handwriting on the backs of Allan’s ledger sheets reveal how little interest Poe had in the John Allan's business.

What happened to Poe’s siblings?

Henry who lived with his grandparent became a sailor who traveled around the world and an amateur poet. Rosalie grew up in a wealthy household, the Mackenzies., She would grow up to teach penmanship at a Richmond girls' school. She eventually was placed in a charity home in Washington, D.C., where she died in 1874.

Did Henry and Edgar ever see each other again or keep in contact?

Before the age of 20, Henry traveled around the globe by sea before returning to Baltimore and becoming a published poet and author. Hence, Henry kept in touch with his younger brother Edgar sporadically as they grew up, often through letters but once he even visited Edgar in Richmond in the 1820s.

Was Edgar and his brother, Henry, close?

Edgar was inspired by Henry, but also Henry was inspired by Edgar. The October 27 issue of Baltimore's North American, published Henry's short story "The Pirate", a fictionalization of his brother's love affair with Royster. The main character was named Edgar Leonard, a combination of the names of the two brothers, who pursues a woman named Rosalie, a name borrowed from their sister. The Edgar Leonard character says: "I lost my parents at an early age... and was left to the care of a relation."

How did Edgar feel about his foster parents?

Although he bonded with Frances, John once apologized to Edgar’s brother in a letter dated November 1, 1824 that Edgar was slow in writing a letter to Henry. He complaining that his foster-son "had little else to do, for he does nothing... The boy possesses not a Spark of affection for us, not a particle of gratitude for all my care and kindness towards him.”

What was the name of Edgar’s childhood sweetheart with whom he planned to wed?

Edgar was devastated when he returned from the University of Virginia to find his fiancée, Sarah Elmira Royster, had become engaged to someone else.

What was unusual about the woman he did marry?

In 1835, Poe, then 26, married his 13-year-old cousin Virginia Clemm. They were married for eleven years until her early death from tuberculosis.

Back to the quotable man himself …which of these quotes reflect Edgar's thoughts on beauty?

A common theme of Poe's is that of a woman who has died at the height of her youth and beauty, leaving a bereft lover behind to mourn. In many cases, parallels can be drawn between the female in question and Poe's sickly and prematurely deceased wife Virginia Clemm, as Poe often depicts the female as child-like or naive, details that recall Virginia's young age at the time of marriage.

Which of these quotes reflect Edgar's thoughts on memory?

Many of Poe's prose deal with the troubling idea that reality is impermanent and nothing more than a dream. Although the others are thoughtful quotes, they did not come from Poe. The quote from answer “B” is from author Haruki Murakami, in his book, Norwegian Wood. Answer “C” is from author Brodi Ashton, from her book Everneath.

How does Edgar Allan Poe feel about love? Which of these quotes accurately depicts his feelings?

For Poe, the strongest and most lasting love generally belonged to the young and innocent heroines of "Tamerlane" and "Annabel Lee," an attitude in line with that of many other contemporary writers of the Romantic era, who regarded childhood as the purest state of man. As for the other quote listed, William Shakespeare, in All's Well That Ends Well wrote “Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”

What does Poe have to say in regards to insanity?

In his short works, Poe often plays upon the idea of a double, where the narrator has a doppelganger that represents his subconscious or his primal instincts. In this way he can delve into the insane mind in many of his tales. As for the other quote, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, said “A”. Goethe was one of the key figures of German literature in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Back to the man, himself. Poe’s primary occupation as a writer was as a literary critic. What was he known for as a critic?

Poe was known to be extremely harsh with his criticism but that worked out well for him. Within a year Poe helped make the Messenger the most popular magazine in the south with his sensational stories as well as with his scathing book reviews. Poe soon developed a reputation as a fearless critic who not only attacked an author’s work but also insulted the author and the northern literary establishment. Poe targeted some of the most famous writers in the country. One of his victims was the anthologist and editor Rufus Griswold.

Was Poe financially well-off ?

It didn't help that his wealthy father cut him out of his will. While he never had financial success in his lifetime, He saw a glimmer of it after The Raven was published. He was now famous enough to draw large crowds to his lectures, and he was beginning to demand better pay for his work. He published two books that year, and briefly lived his dream of running his own magazine when he bought out the owners of the Broadway Journal. Unfortunately the failure of the venture, his wife’s deteriorating health, and rumors spreading about Poe’s relationship with a married woman, drove him out of the city in 1846.

Poe’s work is so popular. Where would you find Poe’s work today?

Poe and his work appear throughout popular culture in literature, music, films, online and television. There is even a writing award named after him.

Edgar won awards himself. A writer on the rise, he won a literary prize in 1843 for "The Gold Bug," a suspenseful tale of secret codes and hunting treasure. What other memorable writings did he leave us with?

Poe has become one of America's most enduring writers. His works are as compelling today as they were more than a century ago. Days after Poe’s death, his literary rival Rufus Griswold wrote a libelous obituary of the author in a misguided attempt at revenge for some of the offensive things Poe had said and written about him. Griswold followed the obituary with a memoir in which he portrayed Poe as a drunken, womanizing madman with no morals and no friends. Griswold’s attacks were meant to cause the public to dismiss Poe and his works, but the biography had exactly the opposite effect and instead drove the sales of Poe’s books higher than they had ever been during the author’s lifetime.

Due to his tales and poems of horror and mystery, Edgar Allen Poe has earned what nickname?

Prior to Edgar Allan Poe, there were no clearly defined genres of writing. He was the “Father of the Detective Story”. Although he delved into horror, it was the mystery that was most compelling.

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