Author Archives: Tyler Minks

Edgar Allan Poe: Conchologist?

An excerpt from Murray Ellison’s Master of Arts Thesis © 2015 The Conchologist’s First Book was first published in April 1839, with its author being listed as Edgar Allan Poe. However, Poe was a consulting editor of the book and only wrote the Preface and Introduction. According to Poe documentarians Dwight Thomas and David Jackson,…

Poe’s Cryptographic Imagination – Part II

Modern Computer Solves Poe’s Last Inscrutable Puzzle Murray Ellison | April 13, 2018 Excerpts from Murray’s VCU Master of Arts Thesis on Poe and Science © 2015. Poe published several columns on cryptography entitled “A Few Words on Secret Writing.” He explains that advanced puzzles, where the only secret to the code is “locked in…

Flash Fiction Contest Winner

  “Untitled” – Shawn Hambright By all accounts, the elephant is alive somehow, and still on fire. Some posit that the creature is possessed by those killed in a slave rebellion in the nineteenth century. Others see biblical connotations in that the mayhem has continued for seven days. No one has put forth the idea…

Flash Poetry Contest Winner

“Satis House” – Launce Reed Barber Possessor possessed by that in which he names Craving for all the treasures lonely Hoarding wares to fill his house Becoming more a coffin than a home The architect builds walls to hang his many mirrors Reflections to remind and extend To some endless imperfections end Thank the creators…

Poe’s Cryptographic Imagination – Part I

Poe’s Cryptographic Imagination – Part I Murray Ellison | February 1, 2018 Excerpts from Murray’s VCU Master of Arts Thesis on Poe and Science © 2015. Poe continued to demonstrate an interest in unlocking mysteries and secrets in several of the essays and newspaper columns he wrote on secret codes and cryptography. These popular weekly…

The Poe & Science Series

Was Poe Convinced that Phrenology is a Science? Murray Ellison | Jan. 8, 2018 Excerpts from Murray’s VCU Master of Arts Thesis on Poe and Science © 2015 Poe continued his interest in spectacular news stories that blurred the lines between fact and fiction in an 1836 review on this topic: “A Review of Phrenology…

The Poe & Science Series

Poe Exposes Maelzel’s Automated Chess Player, Part II Murray Ellison | Dec. 2nd, 2017 In 1836, Poe asks readers of the Richmond-based Southern Literary Messenger to ponder the implications for the future if a machine could calculate without human input. He writes, “There is no analogy, whatever, between the operations of the chess-player and those…

Poe’s Investigations of a 19th-Century Automated Chess Machine – Part I

Charles Babbage’s First Automated Chess Machine on Display in the London Science Museum Written By Murray Ellison  |  November 1st, 2017 Literary Historian, Gerald Kennedy writes, “In Poe’s writing career he worked… as a proofreader, editor, reviewer” of newspapers in Baltimore, Richmond, Philadelphia, and New York—the publishing centers of the United States” (64). These venues…

Poe’s Early Schooling and Interest in Science

Written by Murray Ellison Poe’s early schooling and military training inspire and shape his interest in science. According to Kenneth Silverman, Poe’s secondary education started after his foster parents moved from England to Richmond. In 1821, “Edgar attended the private academy of Joseph H. Clarke,” which served to prepare young gentlemen to obtain “an honorable…

Poe & Science with Murray Ellison

“M.S. Found in a Bottle:” A Look at Poe’s Skepticism of 19th-Century Science, Part II Murray Ellison  |  August 31, 2017 By being unobserved, the unnamed narrator of Poe’s, “M.S. Found in a Bottle” is looking at the relics of science on the ship he is standing on as an outsider. He concludes that much…