A raven perches upon a bust of Pallas near the door of the Free Library's Rare Book Department. It's a Halloween-prop fake, though — the real raven is just down the hushed hall, sitting on a branch inside two ventilated UV-glass cases dimly lit with fiber-optic lights. As the John Cusack movie is out this week (see Shaun Brady's review), City Paper visited Grip the Raven, believed to be the inspiration for the one who famously quoth "Nevermore."
Grip never belonged to Edgar Allan Poe, though — in fact, the two never met. This was the first of three pet ravens owned by Charles Dickens, all of which were named Grip. "Like George Foreman," says Janine Pollock, head of the Rare Book Department. Though his name choices seem impersonal, Dickens loved animals, writing with great affection about the family's many pets in correspondence. (He loved even the tiniest pets — a small headstone for the family canary sits near Grip's case, with the epitaph "Dick, the best of birds.")
Dickens preserved some of his pets physically, but immortalized a few in his novels. Most prominent is Grip, who will forever be the companion of the titular half-wit of Barnaby Rudge, which Dickens was working on when Grip died after eating paint in 1841.
So why is Dickens' raven in the Free Library's Poe collection?