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“The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe was published 175 years ago today

“The Raven” was first published in the New York Evening Mirror on January 29, 1845, and would come to define the morbid brilliance of its author Edgar Allan Poe.

Poe and his sickly young wife Virginia arrived in New York in 1844, lodging at a dairy farm at today’s West 84th Street, between Broadway and St. Nicolas Blvd. (While blocks would have been marked by the Commissioners Plan in the 1810s, there would have been little development here.)  It’s widely believed that Poe “composed, or at very least, perfected” the poem in New York.

Believed to be the Brennan farm. Photo courtesy New York Public Library

Here’s another angle of the house in a fanciful illustration highlighting the very bucolic nature of the area then.

Courtesy Ephemeral New York

Courtesy Ephemeral New York

The blog Manhattan Past has an excellent post on the supposed whereabouts of the Brennan farm. Although he lived here for a short time, the street today is ceremonially referred to as Edgar Allan Poe Street.  The street was officially given that distinction in 1980 and for many years presented misspelled street signs — “Edgar Allen Poe Street.”

A few days later after the poem’s debut in the Evening Mirror, on February 4, the New York Daily Tribune also published “The Raven”.  Here’s how it first appeared in the Tribune:

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It was then published in the Broadway Journal, a couple of weeks before Poe became editor of that publication.  The venture however was a financial failure. In 1846, he and Virginia moved to a farm-house in the area of Fordham (in the Bronx) which is still preserved today.

Poe hoped living far from the bustle of New York would help his wife; but she died here in on January 30, 1847 — almost two years to the day after the publication of “The Raven.”

Poe's home in the Bronx, as it appeared in the 1910s. Courtesy Library of Congress

Poe’s home in the Bronx, as it appeared in the 1910s. Courtesy Library of Congress

At top: “The Raven” from the original illustrations of Edouard Manet

For more information, check out our podcast on the history of Edgar Allan Poe in New York City.At top: “The Raven” from the original illustrations of Edouard Manet

1 reply on ““The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe was published 175 years ago today”

Edgar Allan Poe never wrote “The Raven,” he merely claimed it in a kind of 19th-century “identity theft.” The poem’s premiere was submitted anonymously to “American Review” under the pseudonym “—- Quarles” by the true author, Mathew Franklin Whittier, younger brother of poet John Greenleaf Whittier. Poe, a critic for the New York “Evening Mirror,” finding the poem in an advance copy of “American Review,” scooped Mathew in his own paper by two days. Mathew had shared a copy of “The Raven” with Poe in early 1842, so Poe had a handwritten copy in his possession. This enabled him to convince his editor that he had permission to scoop “American Review”–but he mysteriously left the “Mirror” shortly afterwards (suggesting that he may have been fired for lying about it). It is the height of absurdity that the editor of a newly-launched monthly literary magazine like the “Review,” would have given a daily newspaper this permission. The real author was not in a position to reveal his identity because of his anti-slavery work and connection with the Underground Railroad, and hence could not publicly defend himself. My paper, “Evidence that Edgar Allan Poe Stole ‘The Raven’ from Mathew Franklin Whittier,” can be downloaded from Academia.edu.

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