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The New York Times

By LIESL SCHILLINGER

Is it true that Edgar Allan Poe cheated on his tubercular, insipid young wife with a lady poet hed met at
a literary salon? Cullen makes you hope so. The man who wrote of the bells, bells, bells deserved a
little euphony. This tale is told from the point of view of his likely lover, Frances Osgood, and Cullen
makes her warm and sympathetic. ..

The Truth Behind the Novel
By Lynn Cullen
Already Griswold and Poe were enemies. Poe had slammed Griswold's poetry collections and
had further enflamed his rival by encroaching on Griswold's turf in literary criticism In one of
the most bizarre turns in literary history, Poe's aunt and mother-in-law, Maria Clemm, made
Griswold the executor of Poe's papers--a strange move, considering Griswold's widely-published
malicious obituary of the man. Once his rival's papers were in his hands, Griswold set about
doctoring Poe's letters, spreading lies about Poe's behavior, and concocting a biography
chockfull of inventive slander--a biography which would stand alone for the next 25 years. Even
subsequent chroniclers used it as the cornerstone of their view of Poe.
Some Things You Probably Didnt Know About Edgar Allan Poe
1. The ladies loved him. Women fought to have him come to their parties and swooned when he
read his poems. One woman thought she'd clear her way to Poe's heart by blowing the whistle on
his affair with the married Frances Osgood--a particularly ineffective way to get your man. 2.
"The Raven" made him a star. Almost overnight, Americans were chanting the catchword
'nevermore." Parodies popped up in newspapers across the country and kids followed him down
the street, flapping their arms. 3. He was a cat fancier. In spite of his tale about the murdered
black feline, Poe loved cats and they loved him. His devoted tortoiseshell, Caterina, went into a
depression whenever Poe traveled. Upon his death, their psychic tie was broken. She died two
weeks later. 4. He was a looker. Forget the images of baggy-eyed lunatic so familiar to us all.
They were taken in the year of his death, when he was ill, never a good time for one's close-up.
His portraits from the time of "The Raven" depict a dapper and handsome ladies' man. Said one
admirer, "Gentleman was written all over him." 5. He was as athletic as he was handsome.
Besides holding a record for swimming six miles up the tidal James River in Virginia, he
enjoyed rowing around Turtle Bay in New York City and hiking through the countryside. 6. He
attended his local book club. In 1845, literary fan Anne Charlotte Lynch invited writers and
other artists to her New York City home to discuss books and ideas. Poe went often--until the
Frances Osgood scandal got him promptly uninvited.