One of today’s most popular literary and cinematic genres, Detective Fiction was born 170 years ago. It is hard to believe but “Detective Fiction” first appeared in the April 1841 issue of Graham’s Magazine, with the publication of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” This was the first of three of Poe’s tales to feature C. Auguste Dupin, the very first fictional sleuth. What to call this new literary genre? Poe called these stories “Tales of Ratiocination” after all, the word “detective” had not yet entered the English language,
The impact of Poe’s development of the idea of a story with a plot that revolves around a highly intelligent character’s ingenious solution to a mystery can be found in Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Adrian Monk, and even Scooby Doo. We might never have heard of these characters if it were not for Poe! Poe developed a number of popular detective story subgenres as well, including True Crime (“The Mystery of Marie Roget”), the “Locked-Door” mystery (“The Murders in the Rue Morgue”), the treasure hunt mystery (“The Gold-Bug”), and the comic detective story (“Thou Art the Man”). Poe was so acclaimed for his inventive contributions to the genre that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, wrote, “Where was the detective story until Poe breathed the breath of life into it?”
The Edgar Allan Poe Museum will host a special exhibit, “The Birth of Mystery” from now to June 23, 2011 with an “Unhappy Hour” opening reception on Thursday, April 28 featuring a live action murder mystery for guests to solve to celebrate Detective Fiction’s 170th birthday. The exhibit features dozens of rare and unusual artifacts, such as a copy of the first printing of “The Murders in the Rue Murgue,” little known 1840s documents related to the murder of Mary Rogers (the crime that inspired Poe’s tale “The Mystery of Marie Roget”), and early illustrations inspired by Poe’s stories. Admission to the exhibit is included in the price of Poe Museum admission. The Poe Museum’s four buildings house the world’s largest collection of Edgar Allan Poe artifacts and memorabilia.
The Edgar Allan Poe Museum is located at 1914 East Main Street in Richmond, Virginia. Contact (804) 648-5523 for more information.
Just one more of Richmond’s best-kept secrets brought to you by Richmond’s best Fan District bed and breakfast inn. Check out the diorama at the Poe Museum: across from Poe’s residence at 5th and Main, you will find a marble workyard. The yard at the Northeast corner of 5th and Main was the home of Rogers and Miller Marbleworks, fabricators of marble mantles, headstones, etc. One of the proprietors of Rogers and Miller Marbleworks was William Miller, builder of the William Miller House which dates to 1869 as a residence for his family. The William Miller House opened as a bed and breakfast in 2000 and has hosted guests from around the world. Plan your next visit to Richmond and experience southern hospitality at its finest with a hearty gourmet breakfast!
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