1845, Edgar Allan Poe published his acclaimed poem The
becoming the overnight darling of New York literary society,
and fell in love with a beautifuland equally famouspoet.
It was the year that ruined him forever.
John Mays perfectly imagined novel brings New Yorks
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 to be introduced 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 Yorks 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, Poes
dream of owning 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, Americas most renowned writer was a ruined
man. He had wrecked two womens lives. Even so, both Fanny
and Sissy loved him unremittingly to the bitter end. He died at
the age of forty, alone and having never fathered a child. Or had
Told with special empathy for Fannys warm, impulsive generosity
as it shimmered alongside Edgars dark genius, Poe &
Fanny follows the lovers story to its logical conclusion:
Fanny Osgoods third child was Edgar Allan Poes.
John May not only makes us see and believe the drama of
these lives acted out against the backdrop of nineteenth-century
New Yorks vibrant literary swirl, he makes us care.
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"The best word for Poe & Fanny is—mesmerizing.
John May's brilliant novel offers not only a sharply perceptive
portrayal of America's most striking literary figure but also a
warm and generous and highly dramatic appreciation of the wonderful
Frances Osgood. The knowing overview of antebellum New York society
is a rich bonus. I hung on every word of this brightly intuitive
—Fred Chappell, author of Farewell, I'm Bound to Leave You, I Am One of You Forever,
and Look Back All the Green Valley