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The Raven
Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849)
New York: Harper & Brothers, 1884

Commentary by Edmund C. Stedman (1833-1908). Title vignette by Elihu Vedder (1836-1923), depicting Poe and Doré. The cover illustration is by Dora Wheeler. Illustrated by Gustave Doré (1832-1883).

Paul Gustave Doré was born in Strasbourg. He became a book illustrator in Paris. His commissions included work for editions of Rabelais, Balzac and Dante. In 1853, he was asked to illustrate the works of Lord Byron. The success of this edition led to other work for British publishers, including an edition of the English Bible.

In 1882, Doré took his only commission from the United States, for this edition of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven. This is the first edition of Dore’s final illustrated book, his only commissioned work by an American publisher. The book contains twenty-four full page folio wood-engravings and two vignettes. His illustrations were based on what he imagined as “the enigma of death and the hallucination of an inconsolable soul.”

Doré died in 1883, just as he was finishing his Raven engravings, at the early age of 51. This edition was published simultaneously in England and in America in December 1883. The British edition lists the date as 1883 on its title page and the American edition lists 1884, but they came out at the same time. The work was commissioned by the American publisher Harper & Brothers.