The Philosophy of Composition by Edgar Allan Poe

Have you ever wished you could speak with an iconic writer about their style and choices for their most well known works?

I know I have!

Perhaps it is why I was so excited to have found this essay written by Edgar Allan Poe, The Philosophy of Composition where Poe does just that!

‘In “The Philosophy of Composition,” the essay is a methodical account of how he came to write “The Raven.” He describes the deliberate choices he made in composing the poem, and the choices reveal his aesthetic. He advises brevity to communicate the essential “effect” of a piece. Beauty is the “province” of his work, and “melancholy . . . the most legitimate of all the poetical tones.” Poe discusses theme, setting, sound, and the merits of refrain.’

You can read the entire essay presented by poetry foundation here.

Did you find Poe’s approach to writing useful, inspiring, validating?

If you could receive advice (even from beyond the grave) from another famous author, who would it be?


I love that Poe shares a note from Dickens with us. Poe’s own words throughout - the beauty and precision of language - was in itself inspiring. I’ve saved it to read again. Thank you for the link @DeAnna .

I would love to receive advice from more than one of my favourite authors. Having directed two of his plays - A Phoenix Too Frequent, and The Lady’s Not For Burning - my first choice would be Christopher Fry.

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I am so happy you enjoyed it, I will look for more!