Red Death

Sketch what you think Red Death looks like. Make a Red Death mask within your visual journal.

Print out some copies of Sylvia Kleindinst's
Black and White Ball collection and paste them in your workbook. Explore these images provided by Sylvia Kleindinst to get more ideas for the setting and costumes worn by guests at the Masked Ball.

The Hope Diamond

The unique Hope Diamond phosphoresces red for several seconds after exposure to ultra violet rays in a laboratory experiment. Could it be Red Death?


With its countless deities, animal sacrifice and spirit possession, voodoo -- as it's known to the rest of the world -- is one of the most misunderstood religions on the globe. Misunderstood maybe, but still the stuff of fanciful fiction. Learn more and consider incorporating voodoo elements in your piece.

Dressed as Dreams

In the Masque of the Red Death guests of the Masked Ball came dressed as dreams. If you are looking for ideas for guests and costumes go no further than this exhibition by the World of Wearable Art.

Yoi Yasa designed by Letty MacPhedran of Nelson

Lessons we learned.

Doing this exercise taught my Year 12 class that:

1. A visual aid helps to generate mental images.
2. Being given a frame helps the writer to fill in the picture.
3. You need triggers. You cannot always start from nothing.
4. Word association is a tool to expand ideas.
5. You can get ideas by glancing through an old National Geographic and randomly snatching an interesting old story.




Red Death

THE "Red Death" had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal--the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an hour...

Use the passage from Edgar Allen Poe's story to write about the coming of Red Death.

Helpful Writing Steps

1. Sketch the events in the beginning of Edgar Allan Poe's classic horror story, The Masque of the Red Death, in your visual journal. Show what Red Death looks like, draw the castle, the keys and Prince Prospero leading the 1000 brave and strong into his country retreat. Make notes. Then continue the story. Write 500 words.

2. In Poe's tale the Prince holds a Masked Ball and invites people to come dressed like a dream. Make paper dolls and dress them in costumes for a Masked Ball. Paper doll artist Sylvia Kleindinst provides plenty of resources and recommends using her Black and White Ball collection. For more ideas about characters visit Dominic Besner the Paris Music Hall and The New York Library Picture Collection

3. In your visual journal sketch some characters and costumes. Sylvia Kleindinst has provided this stunning water colour sketch as a suggestion of how to begin.

Put your characters onto the pages of your visual journal and create portraitures. Write another 500 words that reveal the private background and secrets of some of the people who attend this ball. Remember that the castle holds a secret as well.

4. Consider how you could weave the following information about the infamous Hope Diamond into your story.

The most notorious gem in history, the flawless Hope Diamond has left behind it a trail of so many ill-fated owners that superstitions persist about its curse.

Mined in India, the steel-blue stone weighed 112 carats when it reached France in 1668, with a haunting tale that thieves had brought a jinx upon it by plucking it from an idol's eye. Gem trader Jean Baptiste Tavernier sold it to Louis XV1 who had it cut into a 67 carat heart shape and dubbed it the "Blue Diamond of the Crown."

Louis XV1 and Marie Antoinette inherited the Blue. During the French Revolution, Marie, shorn of gems, faced the guillotine.

In an unsolved robbery, the diamond disappeared from Paris in 1792. It reappeared in London in 1830 in its present 44.5 carat oval cutting; banker Henry Hope brought it for $90,000. After his death his heirs suffered assorted scandals; one, Lord Francis Hope died penniless.

The Hope moved on. An eastern European prince gave it to an actress of the Folies Bergere and later shot her. A Greek owner plunged to his death over a precipice with his family in an auto accident. Turkish Sultan Abdul-Hamid 11 had owned the stone only a few months when a revolt of military officers - The Young Turks - toppled him in 1909

The Hope's first American owner, Evelyn Walsh McLean, had seen the diamond in the sultan's harem. She purchased it, mounted as a necklace with 62 white diamonds on the installment plan from French jeweler Pierre Cartier for $180,000. Undeterred by legend she delighted in displaying it. Fatal accidents claimed two children; mental illness her husband.

After Mrs McLean's death in 1947, New York jeweler Harry Winston purchased the jewels, including the Hope. He donated the famed gem to the Smithsonian in 1958.
Source: National Geographic December 1971

The unique Hope Diamond phosphoresces red for several seconds after exposure to ultra violet rays in a laboratory experiment. Could it be Red Death?

5. Write your version of The Masque of the Red Death.

6. Other genres? Write a biography of Prince Prospero; a chapter in a history book chronicling the impact of Red Death; a newspaper report; an article for the National Geographic.

7. When you have finished read Poe's story and do make sure to enjoy some of the pieces written by Patrons of this Cafe.

Sirius Tyde
Ryan Camilleri
Carly Santos
Waikato- Valuta
Anita Maria Moscoso
Gwen Myer


© 2002 Heather L. Blakey 
Soul Food Cafe
Back to Story Starters