Poe biographies

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Does anyone know when the earliest biography of Poe first appeared? Also, who are considered the best Poe biographers? Thanks

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2002


The earliest biography of Poe which I know of is James Russell Lowell's which appeared in 'Graham's Magazine' in 1844 (date from memory, but I think it's right).

There are numerous biographies on the market now, but the two major ones are Kenneth Silverman's and Arthur Hobson Quinn's. Silverman's is the more readable, but liable to idiosyncratic psychoanalytic interpretation of Poe's life and work. Quinn's is more staid and reliable, but is hardly fun to read. For truth, go for the Quinn, for pleasure go to Silverman.

-- Anonymous, July 29, 2002

The first so -called biographical article on Poe appeared in the compact columns of the Philadelphia "Saturday Museum" for February 25, 1843, under the head-title "The Poets & Poetry of Philadelphia" (the second sketch of the series, adorned with an unusual woodcut- portrait of our poet); it was reprinted next week because of its success. This article, organized by Poe's friend H. B. Hirst, from real and invented facts given him by Poe himself, included a lot of revised poems, so constituting a sort of up-dated anthology of his verses, almost all of them absent in Griswold's big book "The Poets and Poetry of America" published in the preceding year, with a short biographical notice, also composed from Poe's right and erroneous data. Please, check the precise date of the first edition of Griswold's anthology (1841 or 1842?), for I write my answer from memory, and not at home. Remark that Griswold's short notice is less a biographical than a "critical" or appreciative one. Any way, we may consider the Hirst/Poe article as a malicious complement, a kind of addendum to Griswold's ambitious (pretentious?) book. I have learned that B. R. Pollin has perhaps written an article about this matter, not yet found, alas. Yours sincerely, Raven's Shade (Belgium). P. S. Don't forget the "Poe Log", naturally! (recently republished in paperback -- and the best of all, for sure...)

-- Anonymous, July 30, 2002

Sorry, but I see that yesterday, in my hurried answer, I omitted to precise that Lowell's bio alluded to in Eddie's information actually appeared in "Graham's Mag." for February, 1845. I have verified the date of Griswold's first (and second, too) edition: 1842. But, above all, I must correct the following blunder: in place of "...is less a biographical than...", would you read, please, "...is a rather biographical than...". And, to conclude, perhaps useful for you to know that the first of Poe's biographies in book-form was W. F. Gill's "The Life of E. A. Poe" (NY -- Widdleton --1877). Yours, Raven's Shade (Belgium).

-- Anonymous, July 31, 2002

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