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In 1849, two years after the death of his wife Virginia, Edgar Allan Poe is haunted not just by the specter of his beloved, but also by his many macabre stories. As he roams from room to room, searching for release from his personal demons, Poe relives both his life and his tales.


"A deeply felt celebration of the love between a husband and wife, and an examination of the profound grief felt by Poe over the loss of his soul mate."
—Daily Herald


Using “The Raven” as a key motif, The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe retells Poe’s melancholic life, melding it with dramatizations of some of his most famous short stories, including “The Tell-Tale Heart,” The Pit and the Pendulum,” “Ligeia,” and “The Masque of the Red Death,” as well as such haunting poems as “The Bells” and “Annabel Lee.”


"A smart and heartfelt journey into the life and literature of the great American horror writer."
—Chicago Tribune

Playwright’s Note:

Throughout our school years, most of us are taught that Edgar Allan Poe was a literary figure to be slightly ashamed of. While our teachers acknowledged the skill of Poe the Author and were grateful for the ability of Poe the Storyteller to hold students’ interest (as all things macabre tend to do), they never failed to communicate a slight distaste for Poe the Man. Their voices would often drop when describing Poe’s marriage to his young cousin Virginia or the circumstances of his death in the gutters of Baltimore (a fascinating subject for another play). However, as with the tales of so many great literary figures from Homer to Hemingway, the legend often outshines the facts. Or as that great writer Anonymous once said, “The truth never got in the way of a good story.” In my investigation of Poe, however, I found that the facts of Poe’s life make a much more fascinating, and melancholy, tale than the fictions that have grown up around him. Thus, I have tried to tell Poe’s story in a way that reveals his fears and hopes, his dreams and failures through his tales. The journey into Poe’s world has been a fascinating one. I hope you enjoy it.

David Rice


Scripts available for either site-specific production in an historic building or standard theatrical production.
40 Minute School Touring version also available. Please contact us for more information.


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