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The Bicentennial of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe [1809-1849] is quite the celebration.  There are yearlong events in all of the cities that claim him as their “Favorite Son.”  The story of his life is as interesting and strange as most of his macabre tales.  Poe endures.

One of the more memorable moments in my life in middle school was watching a movie of “The Tell-Tale Heart”…  unlike much from those years (thankfully!), I do not forget this movie.  I recall, indeed, can still FEEL, the beating, beating , beating of the heart beneath the floorboards.  As the movie presentation moved from one classroom to the next for the following week, I could hear that pounding, pounding echoing through the halls.  It has never left me.

Could this be perhaps why my daughter, a middle school English teacher, has every year introduced Poe to her students, and why she finds that Poe remains the one author who has the same hold, the same pull on young readers’ minds as Harry Potter?  Poe gets these kids reading ~ and this is his gift, and perhaps my daughter’s gift to her students.

I am not a great reader of mysteries… I have done all the British “literary” reads, but always found spy stories the better read, that is until the “red scare” was over and it took all the fun out of it.  So I periodically return to a mystery as escape [I am right now fully immersed in Kate Ross’s four books on Julian Kestrel that are set in Regency England].   So understanding Poe is to understand the history of the modern mystery story.  I am a fan of Wilkie Collins, said to be the father of the modern detective novel with his “The Moonstone” [1868].  But no one does it better that Poe.  One does not forget “The Tell-Tale Heart”  nor a visit to his grave in Baltimore!

There is so much about Poe, bibliographies, biographies, articles, websites, fan clubs, blogs, images – I can in no way do justice to all that is available; so I just append below a few of the relevant blogs, museum sites, bibliographical sources, all as a starting point to learn a little more about this enigma that is Poe.  At the end I list a few cites to his first published works.

edgar-allan-poe-image

The Works online:

Select online resources: 

 

  • Poe Grave in Baltimore

    Poe Grave in Baltimore

A few thoughts on Poe’s publishing history:

Most of Poe’s first works appeared in the magazines and journals of the day, such as the Southern Literary Messenger, Burton’s, Graham’s, Broadway Journal; it was the way he supported himself and his habits.  Never successful in his lifetime, like many authors that die at a young age, Poe would be horrified to know the value of these early works, when indeed they were largely ignored at the time of publication:

Tamerlane and Other Poems,  By a Bostonian.  Boston: Calvin F.S. Thomas Printer, 1827.  Published when Poe was 18 years old.  Impossible to find, only a few in private collections

Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems.  Baltimore: Hatch & Dunning, 1829.  A few encouraging reviews, but largely ignored. 

Poems.  NY:  Elam Bliss, 1831.  Valued today over $40,000.

Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.  NY: Harper, 1938.

Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque.  Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1839 [title page 1840].

The Prose Romances of Edgar A. Poe.  Philadelphia: William H. Graham, 1843.

The Raven and Other Poems. NY:  Wiley and Putnam, 1845. [“The Raven” first appeared in The American Review, Feb. 1845].  It is this poem that made Poe famous in his lifetime.

Tales. NY:  Wiley and Putnam, 1845.  With the 3 tales featuring Auguste Dupin.

Eureka: A Prose Poem.  NY:  Putnam, 1848.

“Annabel Lee”:  first published in Poe’s obituary in the New York Daily Tribune, Oct. 9, 1849.

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The Works of Edgar Allan Poe.  New York, 1850-56.  4 vols.

The Bells and Other Poems, illus by Edmund Dulac.  Hodder and Stoughton, [no date, circa 1912]

Tales of Mystery and Imagination, illus by Harry Clarke.  Tudor, 1933

Harry Clarke illustration for Tales of Mystery and Imagination

Harry Clarke illustration for Tales of Mystery and Imagination

Sources: 

  • Bibliography of American Literature, compiled by Joseph Blanck. Yale, 1983.
  • Biondi, Lee.  “Collecting Edgar Allan Poe”  Firsts Magazine, October 1998.
  • Ahearn, Allen and Patricia.  Collected Books: the Guide to Values, 2002 Edition.  NY:  Putnam’s 2001.
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