“It was night in the lonesome October
Of my most immemorial year.”
from Ulalume by Edgar Allan Poe


American author, Edgar Allen Poe, is a favourite choice at Hallowe’en, with his stories full of irrational madness, obsession and fear. He published his first work in 1827 at the age of 18 and is still acknowledged as the master of horror. His terrifying tales take the reader right inside the disturbed minds of his characters and force them to live the same obsessions, paranoia and insanity that they do. Some of his more famous stories include The Tell-Tale-Heart, The Fall of the House of Usher and The Black Cat.

The Black Cat, published in 1843, is a story told by a mad man who wants to explain his actions the night before his execution. He has always loved animals, especially his black cat Pluto, but one night the man cuts the cat’s eye out. At first he is sorry but then becomes irritated by the scared cat and hangs him on a tree in the garden. After Pluto’s death, the man’s madness grows; he is haunted by his actions and eventually kills his wife too. The police finally discover a screaming black cat closed inside a tomb with the rotting body of his dead wife.


Illustration by Gianni De Conno, taken from American Horror. Five Terrifying Tales by Edgar Allan Poe, Reading and Training, Step 4 (B2.1)