Charles Dickens' Jerk Bird Inspired Edgar Allan Poe' 'The Raven'
Charles Dickens was a pretty weird guy, especially as it concerned his pet raven, Grip. By all accounts, the bird was a real shithead that constantly attacked his children and anyone else that happened to be around. Still, he had an "impressive vocabulary" ("Halloa, old girl" was apparently his favorite phrase), and anyone who's read Dickens knows that's enough to endear him. He found Grip so amusing that he wrote him into his 1841 novel Barnaby Rudge ...
... and when the bird died that year, he went a little nuts. He had him stuffed, mounted, and displayed in a case where the corpse could always look down upon Dickens as he wrote, but he also replaced him with a new raven that he also named Grip. When that bird died, he did it again.
The next year, Dickens traveled to America and met Edgar Allan Poe, who was a big fan of Barnaby Rudge and delighted to learn that Grip was real. Three years later, he published "The Raven." That's right: One of the most well-known poems in the world today is essentially fan-fiction.
Poe never admitted as much, but the birds are described in a distinctly similar, unbirdlike way, and it's so widely assumed to be true that a Poe fanboy named Colonel Richard Gimbel bought the taxidermied body of the first Grip at Dickens's estate sale. It's now on display at the Free Library in Philadelphia, a city not terribly associated with the incredibly English Dickens but where Poe lived during some of his most prolific years. Grip continues to be immortalized in the Tower of London, where three of the resident ravens have been named after him. It is almost assuredly a better gig than watching Dickens write.
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