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Purloined Letters Exhibition Opens, Edgar Allan Poe Bust Revealed at Boston Public Library

October 9, 2014

Boston Public Library

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The exhibition Purloined Letters: Literary Correspondence and its Unintended Recipients opens in the Special Collections Lobby at the Central Library in Copley Square on Wednesday, October 15.  Purloined Letters features an array of rare and important purloined, or stolen, letters written by revered literary figures. Also in October, a bronze bust of Edgar Allan Poe will be unveiled at the library, honoring the Boston-born poet, author, and critic.

Purloined Letters gives us the rare opportunity to delve deeper into the lives of the writers and learn more about them than, in many cases, their published works may reveal,” said Susan Glover, Keeper of Special Collections at the Boston Public Library.

Letters from Boston Public Library’s collection on display include handwritten notes from Edgar Allan Poe, an incarcerated Oscar Wilde, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s sister Elizabeth, and mural artist Edwin Austin Abbey. The exhibition also showcases writers who composed experimental works in epistolary modes — including Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula — and explores prefaces and letters to the reader in early printed books such as Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene.

The Purloined Letters exhibition is a collaboration between graduate students and faculty of the Department of English, University of Massachusetts Boston, and Boston Public Library’s Rare Books and Manuscripts department. Purloined Letters runs through January 30, 2015. The Special Collections Lobby is located on the third floor of the McKim building at the Central Library in Copley Square, located at 700 Boylston Street. The exhibition is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Learn more at

The Edgar Allan Poe bust, donated by artist and sculptor Bryan Moore, will be unveiled on Thursday, October 30, at 6 p.m. in the Abbey Room at the Central Library in Copley Square. Along with Moore, Boston College English Professor Paul Lewis will discuss Poe’s literary themes and his ties to Boston.

“The statue of such an influential writer greatly enhances our collection of portrait busts and now has the distinction of being the most contemporary bust in the BPL’s collection,” said Eve Griffin, Curator of Fine Arts.

Image below at right: Photography by Sheryl Lanzel

Boston Public Library has a Central Library, twenty-four branches, map center, business library, and a website filled with digital content and services. Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library has pioneered public library service in America. It was the first large free municipal library in the United States, the first public library to lend books, the first to have a branch library, and the first to have a children’s room. Each year, the Boston Public Library hosts thousands of programs and serves millions of people. All of its programs and exhibitions are free and open to the public. At the Boston Public Library, books are just the beginning. To learn more, visit