Why did Poe write mysteries?

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Why did Edgar Allen Poe start writing mysteries?

-- Anonymous, May 09, 2000



Its really hard to say with any accuracy Nancy, but his first mystery was "Murders in the Rue Morgue". Actually, this was not the first detective mystery but Poe brought a unique technique to solving the mystery by a reasoned and calculated analysis process of elimination. His other invention was C. Auguste Dupin, the tales hero and a model for A. Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.

Personally, I would think that Poe began writing mysteries primarily for financial compensation and literary exposure. It was not unusual for a magazine of the time to encourage literary submissions for competition prizes. Often, one of the rules was that all submissions would become the property of the magazine whether they were selected and printed or left unused. The magazine could always print them later without paying the submitter. This happened regularly.

The interest in Poe generated by "The Murders in the rue Morgue" did lead to other offers so I guess he was compensated somewhat. He did win a $100 dollar prize for "The Gold Bug", a different kind of mystery that raised a lot of interest and additional copies had to be printed for distribution.

Hope this gives you some help.


-- Anonymous, May 11, 2000

I agree with Tis that Poe's main motivation was financial. I'd like to add that something that is not often mentioned today is that Poe,in his day, was known as a solver and a creator of puzzles and conundrums. I think that this natural bent of his for working through puzzle (I think in one of his early stories or articles he solved the riddle of how a mechanical chess playing Turk operated) carried over into literature and he created stories based on the solving of mysteries by the process of what he called "ratiocination"

-- Anonymous, May 12, 2000

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