Edgar Allan Poe: Lessons for Creative Success from Literature’s Greatest Antihero

Time Period
1825 to 1860
1925 to Today
Media Type
Domestic Life
Catherine Baab-Muguira

On October 28, 2021, writer Catherine Baab-Muguira presented a lively and informative look at Edgar Allan Poe and how his life can teach us counterintuitive lessons on achieving creative success.

Edgar Allan Poe led one of the saddest lives ever. He lost virtually everyone he loved, and his grinding poverty meant that he and his family were sometimes starving in the literal sense. What’s more, Poe’s own impossible personality got him fired from job after job, drawing him into feuds that continued even after his death. Even so, the magnitude of Poe’s success strains credulity. His poetry and fiction have been translated into every major language, and rarer still, people the world over recognize his face. In fact, Poe’s feuds, mistakes, and missteps—the way he did everything “wrong”—worked for him. In that sense, his life is a refutation of traditional self-help and the supposed power of positive thinking. In this fun and accessible lecture, author Catherine Baab-Muguira will discuss how Poe’s life can teach us counterintuitive lessons on achieving creative success—despite the odds and no matter your “flaws.”

Catherine Baab-Muguira is a writer and journalist who has contributed to, among others, Slate, Quartz, CNBC, and NBC News. A frequent podcast and radio guest, with appearances on NPR and Lifehacker’s Upgrade, she lives in Richmond. She is the author of Poe for Your Problems: Uncommon Advice from History's Least Likely Self-Help Guru.

The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.

Want to listen to an audio-only version of this lecture? Listen now on Soundcloud.