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The Canon of Poe's Works

    It is, of course, well known that Poe was a writer, but what did he write? In his own day, he was generally thought of as a poet and literary critic who also wrote stories. With the rise of modern poetry and its emphasis on free verse, Poe's poems fell from grace. The modern school derided them as old-fashioned, more gimmick than substance. His critical reviews were mostly forgotten. A select few of his more fantastic poems and tales have never been out of print, but have obscured his other writings. Most people know about "The Raven," "The Bells," "The Cask of Amontillado," "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Fall of the House of Usher." These and a few related works comprise the core of Poe's literary legacy. They are, however, only a handful of his writings and provide a misleadingly narrow view of his style and subject matter. In addition to the familiar poems and tales, Poe wrote humorous stories, a textbook on the study of shells, a theory on the nature of existence, a play, editorial reviews and essays on a variety of topics including the history of street paving.

    Since the 1880's, scholars have been trying to establish a complete listing of Poe's writings. The bulk of Poe's poetry was clearly identifiable from his own published collections, but the majority of Poe's writings were printed in magazines and newspapers, many of which are very rare or entirely lost. Unpublished manuscript material was also known and sometimes its authorship hotly debated. Forgers further complicated the picture, generally creating bad and obvious imitations of "The Raven," but sometimes fooling even cautious experts. A large number of Poe's works were published anonymously, particularly the editorial material. Even "The Raven" was first printed, at Poe's insistence, as by " -- Quarels." At one time or another, every poem printed over the initials "E. A. P." or even just "P" has been attributed to Poe, usually incorrectly. Separating the wheat from the chaff has been a complicated and controversial chore, one that will probably never be completely resolved. At this point, it is unlikely that any major new works will be identified, but possible items continue to emerge from time to time. At least one noted Poe scholar, Dr. Burton R. Pollin,  has recently decreed that many works by Poe's friend Henry Beck Hirst may actually be by Poe. He is planning to include these items in his continuing collection of Poe's writings, but it will require many years of discussion and disagreement before they can be accepted, if they are at all, as part of the Poe canon.

    The following categories are convenient for dividing Poe's works into manageable lists, but require a certain amount of personal preference. These lists should not be considered definitive, although it is our hope that, in time, they will be as inclusive and accurate as possible. In addition to accepted works, dubious and rejected items will be listed separately. Whenever practical, the reason for attribution of each item will be noted.

Poe's Works of Fiction:

Poe's Works of Non-Fiction:


In addition to the collections cited under the various sections above, the following books and articles are among those that have tried to establish the Poe Canon. The following books and articles attempt to establish or remove specific items from the Poe canon. Articles related to a particular item are referenced in the argument for that item in the appropriate section above:
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