Known as “Georgia’s Lost Poet,” Dr. Thomas
Holley Chivers is best remembered for his association with fellow Southern
writer Edgar Allan Poe. The two
experimented with meter and sound in their poems with such similar results that
supporters of each accused the other of plagiarism.
Though he graduated from Transylvania University, Lexington, Kentucky, with an M.D. degree in 1830, Chivers seldom practiced medicine. A painter and inventor as well as a poet of considerable originality, he (like his fellow physician poet Thomas Dunn English) has a reputation mostly for his accusations that Edgar Allen Poe stole ideas from him (and vice versa).
In the mid-1830s, Chivers contributed some poems
to the Southern Literary Messenger, which Poe was editing. It was Poe's apology
after penning a negative review of Chivers' verses in another journal that
launched a friendship between the two poets. However, that friendship was
short-lived, and Chivers accused Poe of plagiarism after the publication of
"The Raven" three weeks after "To Florence Allegra," a
eulogy to his dead daughter, saw print. Poe denied the charges, saying that his
concept of "The Raven" had evolved over a few years, but the feud
between the two poets continued until Chivers' death in 1860.