Earlier this month, while I was in Roswell, New Mexico lecturing about Edgar Allan Poe, I received a call from a publisher, The History Press, asking if I'd like to write a book about Poe and the time he spent in Philadelphia. So I submitted a proposal and, yes there will be a book. A preview:
Edgar Allan Poe lived in Philadelphia from 1838-44. While there, he wrote the stories that still chill us: The Tell-Tale Heart. The Fall of the House of Usher. The Black Cat. The Pit and the Pendulum. The Gold Bug. The Murders in the Rue Morgue. While there are many biographies of Poe, none go into any detail about how 19th century Philadelphia influenced these works. Poe’s Philadelphia wasn’t the charming cobblestoned city of patriots ringing in a new age of democracy on the Liberty Bell. It was a city of disease and crime. Cholera rampaged. Race riots broke out regularly. Striking workers battled in the streets. There was no real police force and firemen were more likely to start fires than put them out. Edgar Allan Poe witnessed all of this and, in turn, produced stories of chaos, destruction and death. Traces of his Philadelphia run rampant throughout his works. Philadelphia Gothic was the crucible for Poe’s imaginative genius. This biography of Edgar Allan Poe’s in Philadelphia will document Poe’s involvement in the events of the time—the real crime stories he saw in the streets and read in the penny newspapers—and use his mystery and horror stories as a lens to view this history. This will be a book just as much about Poe as it is about a tumultuous 19th century urban environment.
Release is scheduled for September 2012, just in time for all the Poe events of the Halloween season. The Philly Poe Gospel finally comes to print. Now, to write!