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Bohemian SouthCreating Countercultures, from Poe to Punk$
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Shawn Chandler Bingham and Lindsey A. Freeman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469631677

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469631677.001.0001

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The Southern Origins of Bohemian New York

The Southern Origins of Bohemian New York

Edward Howland, Ada Clare, and Edgar Allan Poe

(p.20) The Southern Origins of Bohemian New York
Bohemian South

Edward Whitley

University of North Carolina Press

The first Americans to identify as artistic bohemians gathered at a Manhattan beer cellar in the 1850s. They counted Walt Whitman as one of their number, and considered Edgar Allan Poe a bohemian avant la letter. But New York’s first bohemians were not displaced Parisians living in a section of the Latin Quarter magically transplanted to the United States. Rather, bohemianism in the United States has roots in Charleston, South Carolina, the hometown of both Ada Clare (the “Queen of Bohemia” and host of a weekly literary salon) and Edward Howland (the financial backer for the bohemians’ literary weekly, The New York Saturday Press), as well as in the setting of Poe’s “The Gold-Bug” (1843), which influenced the first literary representation of American bohemianism in Fitz-James O’Brien’s short story “The Bohemian” (1855). Charleston’s cotton plantations provided Howland and Clare with the money to fund the institutions that were essential for bohemianism to flourish: the periodical and the salon. With Poe at the imaginative center of American bohemia and Clare and Howland at its financial center, U.S. bohemianism emerges as a complex network of people, money, and ideas circulating between the North and the South as well as New York and Paris.

Keywords:   Edgar Allen Poe, Ada Clare, Fitz-James O’Brien, Walt Whitman, Pfaff’s

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