November – December 1990

More than 140 years after his death, Edgar Allan Poe continues to haunt our imaginations. Children thrill to the sheer terror of his tales told after lights are out, while adults learn to appreciate the complexities of his poetry and prose. This fascination has been reflected in decades of art, film, music, literature and scholarship.

Edgar Allan Poe wanted to be acknowledged as a poet of genius, but most modern critics agree that his tales are his greatest contribution to literature. Often credited as the inventor of the detective story and what we now call gothic fiction, he has always been popular in America but even more so in Europe as evidenced by a myriad of translations. Yet the brilliant creator of The Raven and The Fall of the House of Usher died tormented and penniless at forty.

This exhibition explores Poe’s haunted imagination as it is revealed through the visions of his many illustrators. These books are largely from the Libraries’ Mabbott-Poe Collection, the working library of noted Poe scholarly Thomas Ollive Mabbott.