Speaking Volumes: Celebrate the life and works of Edgar Allan Poe at your Manatee library

At the mere mention of the words, “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I ponder, weak and weary …”, you might have guessed that these are the words of Edgar Allan Poe.

If not, those are the opening lines of arguably his most famous work, which debuted in 1845 in the poem “The Raven.”

This year marks what would have been Poe’s 210th birthday, and your library has a wide range of materials on this famous writer.

Poe not only was a poet and a writer of short stories, but he also was a noted literary critic, and you might be surprised to know that it was this latter occupation that he was best known during his lifetime.

He also wrote about other subjects, and not just about his recurring themes of lost loves, the resurrection of the dead, and most significantly, premature burial. He is widely thought to be the father of the detective story through 1841’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.”

If you’re looking for information about Poe or want to revisit or perhaps discover this talented, famous writer for the first time, you’ve come to the right place. Your library has a wide range of materials to explore Poe and his world.

If you’re looking for biographies of Poe, we have Jeffrey Meyer’s “Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy.” This is a comprehensive look at Poe’s life and works, as well as delving into his personal life, his often-stormy relationship with his adopted parents (his birth parents died when he was very young), his struggle to become a writer and his marriage to his first cousin Virginia Clemm in 1836 as well as her premature death.

We also have some excellent biographies in our youth services area such as “Edgar Allan Poe: Tragic Poet and Master of Mystery,” “A&E Biography: Edgar Allan Poe” by Tom Streissguth and Lettice Cooper’s “The Young Edgar Allan Poe.” As you can tell from the latter title, it focuses on the early formative years of the future poet and writer.

If you’re looking for literary criticism, you might check out these: “The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe,” Bloom’s Bio Critiques: Edgar Allan Poe,” and “Readings on Edgar Allan Poe.” They all are solid sources of criticism of Poe’s various works.

If you want to hear what Poe thought of the works of his contemporaries such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who was often the target of Poe’s sometimes caustic reviews, check out “Poe: Essays and Reviews, His Literary Criticism.”

We also have a wide range of other media such as graphic novels and comic adaptations of his works. These include Matt Johnson’s “Pym,” a comic book adaptation of “The Adventures of Arthur Gordon Pym,” Poe’s only novel, and “Edgar Allan Poe’s Spirits of the Dead,, which is a collection of Poe’s tales in comic book format.

This last title can be accessed through Hoopla, an electronic database available through the library.

These items and more await you at your library.

Manatee County Libraries is online at

Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday in the Bradenton Herald. David Breakfield is a reference librarian at the Downtown Central Library.