The Strange Case of Edgar Allan Poe and James Whitcomb Riley / #40DaysofHalloween

Edgar Allan Poe died October 7, 1849, the same day James Whitcomb Riley was born in Greenfield, Indiana. An odd connection, to be sure, the Hoosier Poet and the Tomahawk Man, but there is a stranger one still.

Believing that Midwestern authors were failing to find traction in the literary magazines and newspapers published on the East Coast, in 1877 James Whitcomb Riley concocted a poem in the style of Poe and submitted it as a long lost work of the famed author.

The poem, titled Leonainie, appeared in the Kokomo Democrat on August 2nd, 1877, and was subsequently reprinted many times before people caught on to the prank.

While the ruse traveled far beyond where Riley intended, the young poet took pleasure in the fact that many of the literary elite, the very ones he intended to prank, fell for it.

Granted, Riley was fired from his position at the Anderson Democrat and he was forced to move back home to Greenfield, but the backlash eventually subsided and Riley went on to become an acclaimed author in his own right.

While perhaps not as grim as Edgar Allan Poe, Riley did turn out a couple of devilish works, the most prominent being a staple here in the Hoosier State, Little Orphant Annie

An’ one time a little girl ‘ud allus laugh an’ grin,
An’ make fun of ever’ one, an’ all her blood-an’-kin;
An’ wunst, when they was “company,” an’ ole folks wuz there,
She mocked ’em an’ shocked ’em, an’ said she didn’t care!
An’ thist as she kicked her heels, an’ turn’t to run an’ hide,
They wuz two great big Black Things a-standin’ by her side,
An’ they snatched her through the ceilin’ ‘fore she knowed what she’s about! An’ the Gobble-uns ‘ll git you
Ef
you
Don’t
Watch
Out!

One Response to “The Strange Case of Edgar Allan Poe and James Whitcomb Riley / #40DaysofHalloween”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: