Edgar Allan Poe's work is considered a most important part of American literature. Born as "Edgar Poe" on January 19, 1809 he is best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre and generally considered "the inventor of the short story". Quite a few ladies were said to have fainted after hearing his famous poem "The Raven" or one of his horiffic tales like "The Mask of the Red Death", published in May 1842. In this tale he tells the story of a nobleman and his friends trying to escape the horrors of a dangerous plague known as the "Red Death" – which of course eventually finds them and causes their imminent decease. Some state that he was "the first well-known American author to try to earn a living through writing alone" – which didn't work out very well. He never really had a lot of money and died age 40 under mysterious circumstances on October 7, 1849. Many of his stories – even today – are rather disturbing as they all tend to touch a certain unconscious level in their readers' minds. Poe stated that "works with obvious meanings cease to be art" and so he avoided the obvious and went for the obscure. He also believed that quality work should be brief and focussed on a specific single effect. A priciple he stuck to rather firmly. "The Black Cat", first published in the August 19, 1843 issue of The Saturday Evening Post, is all about one thing: human conscience. A murderer carefully conceals his crime and in the end breaks down and reveals himself, impelled by a nagging reminder of his guilt – that comes along in the form of a black cat. Many of his stories contain a kind of sblime horror and struck their audience with terror, fright and fascination at the same time. Poe has inspired generations of artists with his work. One of them is Gris Grimly, an L.A. based American artist and storyteller best known for his darkly whimsical children's books. Having been interested in the scary world of monsters and goblins from an early age, he has been inspired by classics of horror like Edgar Allan Poe, Edward Gorey, and H.P. Lovecraft ever since. His "Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Mystery and Madness" published in 2004 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers features slightly abridged texts and is a wonderful hommage to the great poet, full of "whimsical and twisted full color art that captures perfectly the macabre and maniacle tone of Poe".