Happy birthday to Gothic lit god Edgar Allan Poe, whose chilling tales have influenced innumerable artists of every kind across the globe and have been a comfort for angsty teens everywhere. While the scribe’s life story is a fascinating one filled with madness and love, we’re celebrating the grim gentleman’s legacy by calling attention to one of his greatest attributes: his debonair mustache. Poe’s appearance has been well documented, citing that he traded long sideburns for his now-famous facial hair, which he first grew around 1845. An article in the 1878 copy of Scribner’s Magazine, “The Last Days of Edgar A. Poe,” describes the writer’s iconic stache more specifically:
“He wore a dark mustache, scrupulously kept, but not entirely concealing a slightly contracted expression of the mouth and an occasional twitching of the upper lip, resembling a sneer. This sneer, indeed, was easily excited — a motion of the lip, scarcely perceptible, and yet intensely expressive. There was in it nothing of ill-nature, but much of sarcasm … ”
What other literary greats have memorable mustaches? Find out past the break, and let us know who you’d add to the list.
A heavily mustachioed man with a wild mop of curly hair, Slaughterhouse-Five writer Kurt Vonnegut is a scruffy symbol of the ’60s and ’70s counterculture movement — something the author touched upon in several of his works. So great was his facial hair that many celebrate “Vonnegut Day.” The author espoused human kindness and love, and we adore that mustache.
Between the bearded witches in Macbeth and actors portraying women — complete with facial hair and five o’clock shadows — it’s pretty clear that Shakespeare was brazen about all things bewhiskered. Even though there’s no written account of his actual appearance, we can assume his mustache was droopy and lovely from the many representations created over time.
Madame Bovary author Gustave Flaubert has described himself as a “full-blooded” and “large-limbed” man, which may explain why he grew an enormous, drooping mustache. (Symmetry!) Flaubert was so bonded to his facial hair, that when he shaved it off as a young man, he lamented its loss in a letter to his mother: “… My poor beard, bathed in the Nile, blown by desert winds, long perfumed by tobacco smoke!”
Hemingway’s mustache was like his prose: straightforward, spare, and bold.
Mark Twain’s trademark white suit and mustache to die for makes him one of the most memorable fuzzy faces for lit fiends. The humorist and satirist’s greatest work wasn’t Huckleberry Finn, it was grooming that gorgeous stache for the entire world to enjoy. Also, mind the eyebrows.
Always impeccably groomed and dressed to impress, Faulkner’s image was made all the more grand because of his fine mustache. His iconic pipe wouldn’t have the same kind of character without his neat whiskers. The whole ensemble makes the Southern Gothic scribe a true poet patrician.
Gaze into the abyss of Nietzsche’s walrus-handlebar mustache.
The Gambler was a somewhat autobiographical account of Dostoevsky’s addiction to roulette, which is why we wonder if the Russian writer was describing himself when he wrote about the General in his short story. “Still of imposing appearance and presence, as well as of fair height, he had a dyed moustache and whiskers … and a handsome, though a somewhat wrinkled, face.” Sound a little like the literary giant?
“Mr. Bloom glanced from his angry moustache to Mr. Power’s mild face and Martin Cunningham’s eyes and beard, gravely shaking.” — Ulysses
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Think of Doyle’s mustachioed baritsu martial artists, and the Sherlock Holmes writer and his mega handlebar stache take on a whole new level of badassery.
Leo Tolstoy’s scheming editor Vladimir Chertkov must have seriously envied the Russian writer’s snowy locks.
“Being kissed by a man who didn’t wax his mustache was like eating an egg without salt.” — Kipling
The bristly Orwell milk mustache.
Gabriel García Márquez
A magical mustache for a magical realist, Gabriel García Márquez owes his mustache style — the Zapata — to Mexican Revolutionist Emiliano Zapata, who reportedly made up for his short stature with a huge handlebar. This was before Hummers were invented, so …
” … The waxed tips of his moustache are rigid with importance.” — Midnight’s Children