Poe & Fanny
This interesting first novel by John May takes place in the literary world of New York City in 1845. Edgar Allan Poe is 36 years old and struggling to provide food and shelter for his chronically ill child bride and her mother. He has recently quit his short-lived job as an assistant at the New York Mirror to become co-owner of a weekly magazine, the Broadway Journal. The magazine is careening toward failure because Poe cannot afford to pay contributing writers and his own well of creativity is drying up. With the publication of The Raven he feels his troubled times are over, but are they just beginning? As he travels in the most popular literary circles, he meets Fanny Osgood. Poe is drawn to the vivacious and talented poet. As their attraction grows, his personal life crumbles into drinking binges and a threat of scandal. By the end of that momentous year, the Poes are destitute and must leave New York City. He is shunned by those who had admired him only months earlier.
Poe & Fanny is a fascinating look at the publishing world of pre-Civil War New York City when a poem like The Raven could be bought for ten dollars and copyright laws were waiting somewhere in the future. There is a thriving social scene inhabited by writers and those who celebrate them. Edgar Poe’s infidelity has never been proven, but Mr. May’s story seems to be more than speculation. He has built much of his case from a study of the poems published by Poe and Fanny during that fateful year. These poems are printed at the end of the story for us to enjoy and ponder – evermore.