FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
From: Library Communications, Cornell University Library
Contact: Chris Philipp, 254-8390
A fragment of Edgar Allan Poe’s coffin will arrive at Cornell University Library just in time for Halloween.
Partially covered by a piece of tattered and yellowing paper, the jagged-edge wooden remnant is part of a new exhibition that will be on display in the Hirshland Gallery of the Carl A. Kroch Library beginning on Sept. 29.
“Nevermore: The Edgar Allan Poe Collection of Susan Jaffe Tane” traces the history of Poe’s extraordinary career. The exhibition features many of Poe’s unique manuscripts, scarce copies of his first editions, rare examples of his contributions to newspapers and magazines, and editions of his most famous poem, “The Raven.”
Recognized as one of the most comprehensive Poe collections in the world, the exhibition is the most extensive showing of Tane’s superb collection ever presented.
“The relation between collectors and collections is a fascinating one,” said Sarah E. Thomas, Carol A. Kroch University Librarian. “Tane’s collection is of exquisite quality, representing the passion and personal engagement she brought to the pursuit of documents and artifacts relating to Poe. The Cornell University Library is honored to be the site of the exhibition of this extraordinary collection.”
To celebrate the arrival of Tane’s collection, the Library is hosting a series of events. On Sept. 29th, a seminar from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in Olin Library’s Libe Café will present current work by Cornell graduate students in 19th century American Literature. Well-known Edgar Allan Poe actor David Keltz will give a special performance at Barnes Hall from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30th. The exhibition’s official opening reception will immediately follow. It begins at 4:45 p.m. in Hirshland Gallery.
“Nevermore” will exhibit more than 60 items from Tane’s collection, including a first edition of Poe’s first published work, Tamerlane and Other Poems. Published anonymously, Poe paid to have Tamerlane privately printed in 1827. The Tane copy is one of 12 known surviving copies worldwide, and of those, one of two that is privately owned.
The collection is remarkable in its depth and breadth, according to Katherine Reagan, the Library’s Ernest L. Stern Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts. Tane looked beyond the staples of standard author collections, seeking out not only first editions and letters, but a broad range of 19th century materials that defined the American literary culture of the time.
Although Poe achieved some success in his lifetime, he struggled to make a living. To support himself, he worked as an editor, journalist, lecturer and critic, contributing a steady stream of poems, short stories, and reviews to magazine and newspapers. Tane’s collection includes many examples of his work in these publications.
“One of the gratifying things about this exhibition is that people get to experience these poems and stories in the way their first audience did,” Reagan said. “Cornell Library is extraordinarily grateful to Susan Tane for sharing her remarkable collection with the Cornell community of students, scholars and Poe enthusiasts.”
Although Tane has always been a book lover and an admirer of Poe, she developed a more serious relationship with the author in 1987 when she came across a copy of The Raven and Other Poems at an antiques show. Excited by the possibility of owning a great work of literature, she purchased it and her eyes were “opened … to book collecting.” Since then, Tane has begun collections of several 19th century authors, including Herman Melville. She donated her Melville Collection to the Library in 2005.
“I could not let this book [The Raven and Other Poems] stand alone on the shelf. To me, it represented American Literature, one of the best authors in our country, and the best of the 19th century,” Tane said. “[My] collection is very widespread and it’s interesting because I have so many things people haven’t seen.”
“Nevermore: The Edgar Allan Poe Collection of Susan Jaffe Tane” will be on display from Sept. 29, 2006 to Feb. 24, 2007. For more information, call 255-3530, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit rmc.library.cornell.edu/Poe. For a virtual press kit, please visit library.cornell.edu/communications/TanePoeCollection.