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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Authors Who Live On: Edgar Allen Poe

Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849)
Posted by staff

Some authors capture our attention and continue to live on in the pages of books.  With this post, we begin a series dedicated to authors and literary characters who have found new lives in fictional works.  Our first subject is Edgar Allen Poe.

Edgar Poe was born in Boston early in 1809.   He lost both parents early in life and was raised by the wealthy Allan family, whose name he adopted for his middle name.  His life was tumultuous and he constantly fought battles with debt, literary critics, alcoholism and his adopted family. His death in 1849 occurred under mysterious circumstances about which scholars have argued for years.  Although during his life Poe was not given much attention as an author, he is recognized as the father of the mystery story and beloved for his contributions to poetry and the horror genre.

Poe as an author is probably more popular today than he has ever been.  If you would like to catch of glimpse of what Poe's life might have been like or new adaptations of his works, request one of the books described below:

A Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard
A retired detective is called to West Point to investigate the death of a young woman and meets Poe as a  young cadet.  There are numerous plot twists (the ending is a shocker), the period details are intriguing, and the writing is very well done.  This is not a quick read, but well worth the time.  Highly recommended. 

The Poe Shadow my Matthew Pearl
This historical thriller begins shortly after Poe's death.  A young lawyer is drawn into the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death, becomes obsessed with finding the truth, and eventually ends up on trial for insanity and murder. Poe and his (sinister?) doppleganger feature prominently in the story.

An Unpardonable Crime by Andrew Taylor
When Poe was a boy, he lived in England for five years.  This novel is set in Regency England and follows the narrative of Poe's tutor describing the sinister mysteries surrounding his student.  This novel won the 2003 Ellis Peters Daggar Award under the British title, The American Boy.

Entombed by Linda Fairstein
A body is found bricked up in the cellar of a house where Poe once lived.  The author pays homage to Poe's stories as well as incorporating the contemporary public fascination with his life. The book is seventh in a series, but it isn't necessary to read the previous books to understand the characters. 

Edgar Allen Poe's Tales of Mystery and Madness & Edgar Allen Poe's Tales of Death and Dementia by Edgar Allen Poe and illustrated by Gris Grimly
Each book contains four of Poe's classic stories but reworked to appeal to a teen audience.  The pen and ink illustrations lend a gothic and gruesome mood to the stories.  The books bridge the gap between typical illustrated stories and graphic novels. 

Request items written by Edgar Allen Poe here.

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