Sara Wheeler at Literary Review:
Doctorow was named after Edgar Allan Poe, who in 1846 rented a farmhand’s shingled cottage in the Bronx for $100 a year. He moved in with his young wife, Virginia, and her mother, Maria Clemm, who was Poe’s aunt. Virginia had late-stage tuberculosis and the trio had picked the Bronx for its clean air; it was also judiciously removed from the literary squabbles that swirled around Poe, as well as from the sites of his heroic drinking binges. The homestead, in what is now Fordham, was thirteen miles from the centre of New York on the New York and Harlem Railroad. Trains departed three times a day from Williams Bridge to City Hall.
The cottage, marooned now on an island in the traffic-choked Grand Concourse, had a wooden veranda at the front, a steep, narrow staircase and, in the kitchen, a fireplace over which to cook, though it is a wonder Maria ever had enough money to buy food.