Respite & Nepenthe: Real bird that inspired Poe’s ‘The Raven’ stuffed, now in a museum

 

Real bird that inspired Poe's 'The Raven' stuffed, now in a museum

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.”

Taught in high schools and colleges around the world, the poem would go on to be regarded as one of the best examples of gothic poetry ever written.

If you’re a fan of literary history and live in Philly, the stuffed raven is just a small part of the exhibit, which also features more than 1,000 letters written by Dickens.

This is was too good to NOT pass along.

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