Fear in Writing: E.A. Poe House...or not?

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

E.A. Poe House...or not?

E. A. Poe House, Lenoir, NC
 "Within a short time of beginning his work in Lenoir, Edgar Allan Poe began to enjoy prominence in the town..."

I found this sentence in an ad for the "E.A. Poe House" for sale on a historic homes sale site.  Historic Edgar Allan Poe house?  I might buy it just to say I own it!  It's only $159k and how amazing to say I own a property...wait.  There's another one...

Historic Poe House,
Fayetteville, NC
 "This was the land on which E.A. Poe began construction of his two-story frame house..."

The first one was in Lenoir, NC; this one is in Fayetteville, NC.  I thought Poe was from Boston and Virginia?  But this says it was a U.S. arsenal deeded to Poe's wife...Josephine.  Wait, poet-writer Poe wasn't married to a Josephine; her name was Virginia.

Are these fakes?

No.  But they are misleading advertisements.  The E.A. Poe house in Lenoir is actually the home of a locally-known carpenter and developer.  This Poe built projects all around Western North Carolina and may have also worked on the Vanderbilt mansion near Asheville, Biltmore.  The Fayetteville Poe house may or may not be the home of the same man, but also not the Father of the Detective Story.

The Edgar Allan Poe National
Historic Site, Philadelphia, PA
 The real Edgar A. Poe (as he prefered to sign his name) had houses in BaltimorePhiladelphia, New York City, Richmond, Virginia, and Boston (this one involves a mystery and a bit of detective work, so I suggest reading the article).  I'm not even sure he ever entered North Carolina.

Monday on her blog, Elizabeth Spann Craig wrote about diverting attention in mystery writing.  We all studied Agatha Christie's use of the 'red herring' in high school--mostly with the example of Ten Little Indians (or And Then There Were None), I'd imagine.  It is a very useful tool for writers!  We all want to include that element of surprise, be able to shock the reader, and, above all else, keep them guessing.

What diversions have sent you down the wrong path, either in life or in your writing/reading?

Other lesson: don't buy a house without doing a bit of research. ; )


  1. Michele - Oh, I love this example of misleading advertising!! That's why it's so important to be a discriminating reader, isn't it? And it's funny you would mention diversions. For quite a long time earlier this year, my WIP was held up unforgivably by a wrong path I was taking with it. I had a totally unworkable setting and some characters who just simply didn't work, either. Until I stopped, turned around and went back, the WIP went no-where. Now at least (and at last ;-) ) I am making progress.

  2. I also recommend checking whether your house was built on top of an old Native American burial ground. Just sayin'.


  3. Margot- How interesting that your own wrong path affected your characters. Glad you averted your own diversion!

    Simon- Very good point. I bet we could come up with a whole list...At least I'd like to see your list.

  4. Sneaky! Bet the realtor hopes to attract more attention that way, too.

  5. I didn't know that about Poe but that explains a lot about advertising. I love putting red herrings into my books. I put lots of clues in sometimes so that people have to sift through and find the real ones.


  6. Poe in Lenoir? Yeah, I didn't think so!

  7. Hi, Michele - Me again :-). Just wanted you to know there is an award for you on my blog.

  8. Ooh...that was sneaky! I'd think the Realtor could possibly get in trouble using that as a ploy. It's funny because when I started reading your post, I thought, "Poe...in Lenoir and Fayetteville?" Glad I'm not losing my mind (any more than I already am, anyway.)

    Thanks for the mention on the diversion post!

  9. Great post. A great example of misleading advertising, but just when I finished chuckling over the story, I saw the tie in with writing. Great.

  10. Alex- That would be my guess. And it IS sneaky!

    Clarissa- Sounds like you have a read Agatha Christie streak in you. I look forward to reading some more of your work.

    Diane- Seriously, right?

    Margot- I'm sorry I didn't see this comment until today (Wednesday) but I'm going to get it! Thank you.

    Elizabeth- It was a great post! And it's pretty crazy I stumbled across this at the same time you were writing that. I WISH the house was really Poe's! I would seriously buy it.

    Rayna- That took me a bit to get to...Wednesday's post is more loosely tied together. Some days are just that way.