UMass Amherst
Edgar Allan Poe

The conchologist's first book: or, A system of testaceous malacology, arranged expressly for the use of schools, in which the animals, according to Cuvier, are given with the shells, a great number of new species added, and the whole brought up, as accurately as possible, to the present condition of the science.
Philadelphia, Pub. for the author, by Haswell, Barrington, and Haswell, 1839.

156 p. 12 pl. 18 cm.

Call no: QL405. P74 1839

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) may be remembered as a novelist, editor, and poet, but in his day, it was conchology that helped pay his bills. While living in Philadelphia in 1838, Poe took on the most unusual project of his literary career, acting as a pen -- and name -- for hire for his neighbor, Thomas Wyatt. The plan was that Poe's recognizable name on the title page of Wyatt's edition of Thomas Brown's Conchologist's Text Book (a copy of which is also held in SCUA) would spur sales. Poe, who was paid $50 for his efforts, contributed the preface and introduction; Wyatt (unattributed) most of the scientific detail; and Brown (equally unattributed), the bulk of the text, leading to years of misplaced claims that Poe had plagiarized his only published work in the natural sciences, and the only one of his works to enjoy a second edition during his lifetime.

Although not strictly a book about either plants or insects, Poe's book is simply too interesting to ignore. The SCUA copy is the first edition by Haswell, Barrington, and Haswell, 1839.

title page

title page "Hinges of shelves" (of bivalves)

title page Description of Family Amphitritaea (tube worms)