On This Day

Edgar Allan Poe, Edgar Allen Poe, Edgar Allan Poe portrait, Edgar Allan Poe sartain
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Edgar Allan Poe

On This Day: First Detective Story Published

April 20, 2011 05:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
On April 20, 1841, Graham’s Magazine published “Murders in the Rue Morgue” by Edgar Allan Poe, widely credited as the world’s first detective story.

Poe Paves the Way for Crime Writers

Edgar Allan Poe was a writer and critic who had not yet found literary fame when he wrote “Murders in the Rue Morgue.” The piece appeared in Graham’s Magazine, where he was an editor.

Fans thought Poe’s story had some gruesome elements, and that led to criticism, but overall the story was well received. Even the criticism “did not prevent the story from being published again several times, with French-translation versions of the story being sold overseas as well,” according to BookRags.

The story featured a detective named Auguste Dupin (who later appeared in “The Mystery of Marie Roget” and “The Purloined Letter.”), an unnamed sidekick of sorts who recounts the story, and a murder that had taken place in a locked room, now all essential pieces of detective fiction used repeatedly through the decades.

“Poe was one of the first to shift the focus of mystery stories from the aesthetics of the situation to a more intellectual reality, moving the story from ‘a focus on the superficial trappings of eerie setting and shocking event to a study of the criminal's mind,’’ according to MysteryNet.

Poe’s formula provided the foundation for famous literary detectives such as Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.

Edgar Allan Poe … was the father of the detective tale, and covered its limits so completely that I fail to see how his followers can find any fresh ground which they can confidently call their own,” said Doyle. “On this narrow path the writer must walk, and he sees the footmarks of Poe always in front of him.”

Biography: Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849)

Edgar Allan Poe had a short and difficult life; he wad orphaned as a child, struggled with alcoholism most of his life, suffered through the death of his wife, and died a mysterious death after being found delirious in a Baltimore tavern.

He had a prolific career as a poet and suspense writer, but, despite his success, he lived in poverty. His literary influence is still felt in modern times, as his works inspire books and music.

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