Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Blog Tour Guest Post: Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen

Please join me in welcoming author Lynn Cullen to Let Them Read Books! Lynn is touring the blogosphere with her wildly popular and critically acclaimed novel, Mrs. Poe. Everyone from the Historical Novels Review to People Magazine to Oprah is loving this book, and I myself can't wait to read it this summer. Lynn is here with a guest post about Poe's sultry summer of 1845, and she's brought along a copy of Mrs. Poe to give away to one lucky reader. Read on and enter to win!


New York City, the summer of 1845: The very land was seething with change. Farmers’ fields were being gouged with roads, swamps were being filled, and hills leveled, all in the name of progress. The idea was to iron out the rocky terrain so that it could neatly be divided into lots and sold. Citizens watched with alarm, wondering if a single blade of grass would remain, and so talk began for a public park to be built—a park in the middle of town that everyone could use…a central park.

The city’s best and brightest met that summer to discuss this and other ideas at the home of Anne Charlotte Lynch, a teacher at a girl’s school in Brooklyn. Beautiful, smart, and vivacious, Lynch single-handedly invented the modern book club by inviting friends over to her house to talk about current events, books, poetry, and the arts. She kept it simple, serving cookies, tea, and Italian ices, and insisted that her guests dress informally. All they were required to do was to talk.

These casual gatherings—“conversaziones,” she called them—were an instant hit. Although Anne Charlotte Lynch invited anyone who she thought was clever, famous or not, the New York literati soon flocked to her door: Margaret Fuller, Horace Greeley, Walt Whitman, Herman Melville.  Among them was a certain Edgar Allan Poe, the hottest celebrity in town after the publication of “The Raven” earlier that year.  Imagine the furor at these parties when talk began to spread that Poe was in love with a married woman. And it wasn’t his own wife.

The woman’s name was Frances Osgood. Recently abandoned by her husband, and a poet in her own right, she had been exchanging love poems with Poe that spring, and Poe was boldly publishing them in the magazine that he edited. When the pair appeared at the conversaziones, tongues wagged. Guests gossiped about how the two couldn’t stay away from each other. A would-be suitor noted jealously (and just a wee bit bitterly) how Frances sat at Poe’s feet, looking up adoringly while doing her “infantile” act. It has been recorded that when Poe read “The Raven” aloud at the conversazione on July 19—the night of one of the biggest fires to ever strike Manhattan—Frances Osgood had place of pride beside him. More smoldered in the city that night than the warehouses clustered around Broadway.

John Russell Bartlett, Frances Osgood’s host after her husband had left her, remarked that throughout that summer, Poe visited Frances every night…past midnight. Poe even took a rental house two short blocks away from the Bartletts during that time. So we know that they spent a lot of time together—too much time, according to jealous parties. Enough time that Poe’s mother-in-law (and also his aunt by blood) is thought to have gone to Frances Osgood during this time to demand that she leave Poe alone.

The affair must have seemed very real to Poe and Frances’s friends and families. When another lady poet who wanted Poe for herself claimed that Virginia Poe showed her Frances’s love letters, the conversazione crowd came unglued. Two of Frances’s best friends, Margaret Fuller and our Anne Charlotte Lynch, marched straight over to Poe’s house and demanded Frances’s letters, to take them out of circulation. Whether there were love letters or not, Frances’s friends believed that they existed. They obviously believed in the affair and wanted to destroy any evidence which would ruin their friend’s reputation. When Poe denied that he had letters from Frances, and then continued to write love poems to her, they kicked him out of their social circles. He slunk off to Fordham (in the present-day Bronx,) a cast-off in spite of his new-found fame.  He was no longer fit to be part of the New York society of which Frances was a member.

Poe’s contemporaries believed in his affair with Frances during the torrid summer of 1845. I hope that after reading Mrs. Poe, you will, too. 


Ohh, doesn't that make you want to read all about it in Mrs. Poe?
I wish I had been able to read this in time for the tour, but it is at the top of Mt. TBR,
which I will be climbing this summer :)

This giveaway is closed and the winner has been selected.
Check my sidebar for more great giveaways!


Wanna win your own copy of Mrs. Poe?
Leave a comment on this post with your email address, and you're entered!

This giveaway is open to residents of the US and ends at 11:59pm Tuesday, June 17, 2014. Winner will be selected at random.
Thanks, and good luck!

Mrs. Poe is on a blog tour!

Lynn Cullen grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the fifth girl in a family of seven children. She learned to love history combined with traveling while visiting historic sites across the U.S. on annual family camping trips. She attended Indiana University in Bloomington and Fort Wayne, and took writing classes with Tom McHaney at Georgia State. She wrote children’s books as her three daughters were growing up, while working in a pediatric office and later, at Emory University on the editorial staff of a psychoanalytic journal. While her camping expeditions across the States have become fact-finding missions across Europe, she still loves digging into the past. She does not miss, however, sleeping in musty sleeping bags. Or eating canned fruit cocktail. She now lives in Atlanta with her husband, their dog, and two unscrupulous cats.

Lynn Cullen is the author of The Creation of Eve, named among the best fiction books of 2010 by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and as an April 2010 Indie Next selection. She is also the author of numerous award-winning books for children, including the young adult novel I Am Rembrandt’s Daughter, which was a 2007 Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection, and an ALA Best Book of 2008. Her novel, Reign of Madness, about Juana the Mad, daughter of the Spanish Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand, was chosen as a 2011 Best of the South selection by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and was a 2012 Townsend Prize finalist. Her newest novel, MRS. POE, examines the fall of Edgar Allan Poe through the eyes of poet Francis Osgood.

For more information please visit Lynn Cullen’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitterGoodreads, and Pinterest.


  1. This book sounds fascinating. Thanks for this great giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. Impressive post and novel which I would enjoy greatly. Many thanks. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  3. This sounds like a fantastic novel and I would love to read it!!! Thanks for the opportunity to win.

  4. I enjoyed this post very much. It definitely made me want to read Mrs. Poe. Thanks for the great giveaway.

    tmrtini at gmail (dot) com

  5. I loved this book and am so excited you are having a giveaway! Crossing my fingers!!!
    Thank you!


  6. would so love to read this book!!
    thank you for the giveaway!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com

  7. I am dying to own this book -- I started reading it and became transfixed by the protagonist. Thanks for this opportunity, once again. --KAS
    email: shamy at post dot harvard dot edu

  8. This is a great review. I am so glad I found your blog. I would like to thank you for the give away.
    email: yoojisbooksies at gmail(dot)com

  9. I'd love to read this book.
    Theresa N

  10. Sounds like a great story!

    tropicalsunlover05 (at) yahoo (dot) com

  11. This book is also on my TBR list. Thanks for the giveaway! Raquel36m (at) gmail (dot) com

  12. I am very intrigued...

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  13. This has been on my Goodreads TBR as well as my Amazon Wish List for awhile. I can't wait to read it.



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