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April 16, 2024

Poe exhibit gives a look into his world

By ALEXANDRA HOUCK | October 13, 2016

The name Edgar Allan Poe is one tied to the city of Baltimore, as this is both the city where he lived for some years and the city where he died and was buried. “The Enigmatic Edgar A. Poe in Baltimore & Beyond” at the George Peabody Library shines a spotlight on the talented writer, placing emphasis on both his life and the impact of his work after death.

The objects on display include first editions, manuscripts, artifacts and letters. These objects  come primarily from the Susan Jaffe Tane Collection, but some pieces are also from the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Morgan Library, along with two private collectors.

The exhibit is broken into three sections that focus on three aspects of Poe. The first focuses on the cities that Poe called home during his life and highlights notable works that he published during the time in each city.

The showcased works include early first editions of the books, newspapers and magazines in which his writings were published in addition to manuscripts for some of his works. The exhibit focuses on five cities in total: Baltimore, Boston, Richmond, Philadelphia and New York.

The second section of the exhibit focuses on the genres in which Poe partook throughout his career. This section is aptly titled “Master of Variety.” It is undeniable that Poe is best known for his works of horror, but the exhibit shows that his writing abilities were not limited to that singular genre.

In fact, Poe branched out into many genres, including science fiction and mystery. The exhibit showcases first editions of works from those areas. There is also a display dedicated to Poe’s most well known work, The Raven, and its multiple forms of publication. This display  includes a handwritten manuscript of the poem.

The final section moves away from the life of Poe and focuses instead on events following his death and his legacy. Poe died on Oct. 7, 1849 from causes that, to this day, have remained unidentified, but his voice has lived on in his writing.

Following his death, multiple obituaries were published in a variety of newspapers, but the most notable on display in the exhibit is by Rufus Wilmot Griswold, who published a malicious obituary titled “Death of Edgar A. Poe” in the New-York Daily Tribune. In addition to obituaries, the Life After Death section also has a fragment of Poe’s coffin and a lock of his hair on display.

However, the section is not limited to only objects directly following Poe’s death. There are also displays dedicated to translations of his works and how his works have been adapted to modern day pop culture.

Overall, the exhibition does a wonderful job highlighting Poe and how his legacy has survived and thrived even to this day. Not only that, the exhibit also gives insight on the instability of the life of a writer, even one as popular as Poe, in that time period.

“The Enigmatic Edgar A. Poe In Baltimore And Beyond” is on display from Oct. 4, 2016 until Feb. 5, 2017. It is a beautiful exhibit that highlights multiple facets of one of the most talented writers in American literature. It’s well worth a visit.


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