Baltimore's Literary History: Background information when reading Your Face in Mine

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Your Face in Mine

by Jess Row

Your Face in Mine by Jess Row X
Your Face in Mine by Jess Row
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2014, 384 pages
    Aug 2015, 448 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Morgan Macgregor
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About this Book

Baltimore's Literary History

This article relates to Your Face in Mine

Print Review

"Baltimore is warm but pleasant...I belong here, where everything is civilized and gay and rotted and polite."― F. Scott Fitzgerald

When one thinks of literature and American cities, Baltimore may not immediately come to mind. While "Charm City" might not have the apparent prestige of San Francisco or New York, Baltimore's literary history is a long and rich one.

H. L. Mencken, Ogden Nash, Emily Post, Dashiell Hammett, Adrienne Rich, James M. Cain, Upton Sinclair, and Gertrude Stein (among many others) all lived and wrote for a time in Baltimore. The city played a major role in the lives of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, perhaps the Jazz Age's most famous couple, with F. Scott penning Tender Is The Night, there. Russell Baker won the Pulitzer Prize for Growing Up, his memoir of a Baltimore childhood. And Francis Scott Key, imprisoned at Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner" in Baltimore.

Egdar Allan Poe House Perhaps the writer the city is most known for is Edgar Allan Poe. While the poet only lived there a short time, it was his last home and the place where he died and Baltimoreans take great esteem in their ownership of this part of literary history, even naming their football team the Ravens, after Poe's famous poem. The best example of the city's respect for the poet is the story of his memorial. Poe was originally buried in 1849 in an unmarked grave, which, over the years, became overgrown with weeds. Eventually, as awareness of the site's neglect began to spread, a grassroots movement galvanized and raised funds for a proper memorial. It took almost thirty years (donations included large portions of pennies collected by school children), but on November 17, 1875, the new and impressive monument was dedicated. Letters from H. W. Longfellow, John G. Whittier, William C. Bryant and Alfred Tennyson were read, and among those present was Walt Whitman, a poet who'd met and long revered Poe. The grave resides in Westminster Cemetery and the site, along with the Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum (a National Historic Landmark), is visited by thousands annually.

Today, among the dozens of well-known writers living and writing in Baltimore, are Alice McDermott, John Barth, Laura Lippman, Stephen Dixon, and Anne Tyler, whose most acclaimed novels (Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Breathing Lessons, The Accidental Tourist, and Morgan's Passing) are set in the city.

Picture of Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum by midnightdreary

Filed under Books and Authors

Article by Morgan Macgregor

This "beyond the book article" relates to Your Face in Mine. It originally ran in August 2014 and has been updated for the August 2015 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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