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Poe & Fanny (Shannon Ravenel Books)
Synopses & Reviews
In 1845, Edgar Allan Poe, published his acclaimed poem "The Raven," became the overnight darling of New York literary society, and fell in love with a beautiful--and equally famous--poet. It was the year that ruined him forever.
John May's perfectly imagined novel brings New York's giddy pre-Civil War social scene into brilliant focus as it unfolds the spellbinding story of a doomed man and the great love that sealed his fate. By the end of what should have been his crowning year, Edgar Poe was reviled by the same capricious circles that had gathered adoringly at his feet to hear him recite "The Raven" again and again. Swept up in the fervor, Frances Sargent Osgood, then separated from her husband, arranged an introduction to Poe to offer her fealty and her friendship. But what eventually transpired between them was far more than two poets' mutual admiration. Over the course of their brief liaison, the two lovers wrote and published (under pseudonyms) many not-so-veiled love poems, and soon enough, New York's literati were abuzz with their affair.
While Poe dallied, his dying wife, Sissy, and her mother were humiliated. And while he despaired, drinking himself into oblivion, Poe's dream of editing his own magazine in New York died on the vine. At the turn of the year, the Poes left New York in disgrace. Deeply in debt and spurned by former fawning admirers, including Horace Greeley, N.P. Willis, William Cullen Bryant, Richard Henry Dana, and Maria Child, American's most renowned writer was a broken man. He had wrecked two women's lives. Even so, both Fanny and Sissy loved him unremittingly to the bitter end. Poe died at the age of forty, alone and having never fathered a child. Or had he?
Told with special empathy for Fanny's warm, impulsive generosity as it shimmered alongside Poe's dark genius, Poe & Fanny follows the lovers' story to its logical conclusion: Fanny Osgood's third child was Edgar Allan Poe's.
John May brings to life the drama of these lives acted out against the backdrop of nineteenth century New York's vibrant literary world.
In one tumultuous year, Edgar Allan Poe published "The Raven," was embraced by the New York literati, founded his own magazine, and had a dalliance with the renowned Frances Sargent Osgood. A married poetess and fellow member of New York's 1840s literati, beautiful Fanny Osgood was, in her time, as famous as her illicit lover. Although 1845 should have been the crowning year of Poe's life, by the end of it he was disgraced and reviled by the same capricious circles that had adored him.
Much in the way Michel Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White illuminates nineteenth-century London, John May brings New York's giddy pre-Civil War social scene into brilliant focus in this perfectly imagined novel of a doomed man and the great love that sealed his fate. At the end of 1845, Poe--a chronic alcoholic barely able to provide for his tubercular wife (his first cousin whom he married when she was thirteen)--left New York City a ruined man, deeply in debt, a virtual outcast spurned by the circle that included Horace Greeley, N. P. Willis, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Maria Child, and James Russell Lowell. He had wrecked two women's lives--his wife's and Fanny's. Even so, both loved him unremittingly to the bitter end.
When he died at the age of forty, Poe left no children behind. Or did he? Poe & Fanny follows their story to its logical conclusion: that Fanny Osgood's third daughter was Edgar Allan Poe's. John May not only makes us see and believe the drama of these lives acted out against the backdrop of nineteenth-century New York's vibrant literary swirl, he makes us care.
This first-rate historical fiction revolves around one of the most famous andtragic figures in American literature--Edgar Allan Poe.
About the Author
John May has combined a business career with a lifelong love of books and writing. He received his MFA degree from Bennington College and is chairman of the board of directors of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro Friends of the Library. He lives with his wife in Greensboro, North Carolina.
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