NEW YORK

- The publisher of a novel about Edgar Allan Poe's child bride defended the book against allegations that its author, Lenore Hart, lifted material from another work about Poe's young wife.

St. Martin's Press released a brief statement yesterday saying it had compared Hart's The Raven's Bride to Cothburn O'Neal's The Very Young Mrs. Poe and found any similarities limited to the inevitable overlap of two novels covering the same subject: Virginia Clemm, who married Poe when she was 13.

St. Martin's said Hart had supplied a detailed response that cited her biographical and historical research.

"As Ms. Hart explained in her response, of course two novels about the same historical figure necessarily reliant on the same limited historical record will have similarities," the statement read. "We have reviewed that response and remain satisfied with Ms. Hart's explanation."

British author Jeremy Duns has posted numerous excerpts on his blog - http://jeremyduns.blogspot.

com - noting the two books share not just plot points, but language and even invention. In November, Little, Brown and Company pulled Q.R. Markham's Assassin of Secrets after Duns and others had noted the novel had taken material from numerous other books.

"As I repeatedly pointed out, Hart stole scenes and passages that O'Neal invented for his novel; i.e. they never happened," Duns wrote in an email yesterday about St. Martin's statement. He added that the "level of precise language" the novels have in common "cannot be coincidence."

O'Neal's book was published in 1956. The author died in 2001.

A sample passage from his book reads: "Beyond Hopewell and the confluence of the Appomattox, the James grew narrower and wound in great loops around Bermuda Hundred. Further on, the current was swifter, foaming against gray boulders and lush green islands which twisted the channel torturously."

A passage from The Raven's Bride, published early this year, reads: "Beyond the confluence of the Appomattox, the James grew narrower and wound in great loops about Bermuda Hundred. The current ran more swiftly there, shoving its relentless force against gray rocks and lush low peninsulas which twisted the channel into a shallow treacherous serpent whose narrow back we must ride."

In an interview in May with the online magazine www.bookslut. com, Hart acknowledged reading O'Neal's book, but only after she had turned in a "corrected draft" of her novel. "The two novels might feel similar for other reasons: We both write about the same real people and real events, not fictional ones either of us had created out of thin air. We both told the story of HER life," she said.