Edgar Allan Poe is recognised as the creator of many early examples of themes in modern fiction. My impression of James M Hutchisson's new biography Poe
is that it is skillfully written and has something of interest for all readers. I have to admit that I hadn't read much of Poe's work before reading this biography, but I felt that this was not a problem as Hutchisson provides a sufficient description of Poe's stories within the text. More knowledgable readers will benefit from the new critical insights into Poe's work and how it relates to his life.
Poe died when he was just 40 years old, and this book looks in some detail at the last ten years of his life, when his fame was beginning to spread, but when he also had many problems - his wife was dying from tuberculosis and it is likely that Poe himself suffered from mental illness. Hutchisson has written this work as a supporter of Poe, and tried to get away from the portrayal of a self-pitying drunkard. On the other hand there is no attempt to hide the faults in Poe's character, and one sees that although Poe may have had a lot of bad luck, he also had a tendency to throw away that good luck which came his way.