Edgar Allen Poe knew many famous people. Some of his most famous letters are reproduced from the annals of the Poe Society website. These letters portray a side of Edgar Allen Poe that the current day public has not seen.
Currently, the most comprehensive printed collection of letters written by Poe is the 2-volume set of The Collected Letters of Edgar Allan Poe (third edition) originally edited by John Ward Ostrom, and revised, expanded and corrected by Burton R. Pollin and Jeffrey A. Savoye, published by Gordian Press in October 2008. It updates and supplants the previous edition by John W. Ostrom, The Letters of Edgar Allan Poe, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1948 (reprinted, with supplemental material by Gordian Press, 1966. The supplement of the 1966 edition included new material as well as combining material published in American Literature, XXIV (November 1952), pp. 358-366 and American Literature, XXIX (March 1957), pp. 79-86. A fourth supplement was printed in American Literature, XLV, no. 4 (January 1974), pp. 513-536. All of this material has been incorporated in the third edition.
With this note I take the liberty of sending you a newspaper — “The Dollar Weekly” — in which there is an article, by myself, entitled “Mesmeric Revelation”. It has been copied into the paper from a Monthly Magazine — “The Columbian” — in which it originally appeared in July last.
I have ventured to send you the article because there are many points in it which bear upon the subject-matter of your late admirable work on the Future Condition of Man — and therefore I am induced to hope that you will do me the honor to look over what I have said.
You will, of course, understand that the article is purely a fiction; — but I have embodied in it some thoughts which are original with myself & I am exceedingly anxious to learn if they have claim to absolute originality, and also how far they will strike you as well based. If you would be so kind as to look over the paper and give me, in brief, your opinion, I will consider it a high favor.
Very Respy. Yr. Ob. St. Edgar A. Poe.
Please reply thro’ the P. Office.
[S:0 - MS, 18xx] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Letters - Poe to G. Bush (LTR188/RCL513)
(2) Charles Dickens to Edgar Allen Poe
United States Hotel, March 6, 1842.
My Dear Sir, — I shall be very glad to see you whenever you will do me the favor to call. I think I am more likely to be in the way between half-past eleven and twelve, than at any other time. I have glanced over the books you have been so kind as to send me, and more particularly at the papers to which you called my attention. I have the greater pleasure in expressing my desire to see you on this account. Apropos of the “construction” of “Caleb Williams,” do you know that Godwin wrote it backwards, — the last volume first, — and that when he had produced the hunting down of Caleb, and the catastrophe, he waited for months, casting about for a means of accounting for what he had done?
Faithfully yours always, Charles Dickens.
(3) Edgar Allen Poe to Horace Greeley
New-York: Feb. 21 — 47,
My Dear Mr Greeley,
Enclosed is an editorial article which I cut from “The Tribune” of the 19th ult. When I first saw it I did not know you were in Washington and yet I said to myself —”this misrepresentation is not the work of Horace Greeley”.
The facts of my case are these: — In “Godey’s Magazine” I wrote a literary criticism having reference to T. D. English. The only thing in it which resembled a “personality,” was contained in these words — “I have no acquaintance, personally, with Mr English” — meaning, of course, as every body understood, that I wished to decline his acquaintance for the future. This, English retaliates by asserting under his own name, in the Mirror, that he holds my acknowledgment for a sum of money obtained under false presences, and by creating the impression on the public mind that I have been guilty of forgery. These charges (being false and, if false, easily shown to be so) could have been ventured upon by English only in the hope that on account of my illness and expected death, it would be impossible for me to reply to them at all. Their baseness is thus trebly aggravated by their cowardice. I sue; to redeem my character from these foul accusations. Of the obtaining money under false presences from E. not a shadow of proof is shown: — the “acknowledgment” is not forthcoming. The “forgery,,’ by reference to the very man who originated the charge, is shown to be totally, radically baseless. The jury returned a verdict in my favor — and the paragraphs enclosed are the comments of the “Tribune”!
You are a man, Mr Greeley — an honest and a generous man — or I should not venture to tell you so, and to your face; and as a man you must imagine what I feel at finding those paragraphs to my discredit going the rounds of the country, as the opinions of Horace Greeley. Every body supposes that you have said these things. The weight of your character — the general sense of your truth and love of justice — cause those few sentences (which in almost any other paper in America I would treat with contempt) to do me a vital injury — to wound and oppress me beyond measure. I therefore ask you to do me what justice you can find it in your heart to do under the circumstances. (over[[)]] [page 2:]
In the printed matter I have underscored two passages. As regards the first: — it alone would have sufficed to assure me that you did not write the article. I owe you money — I have been ill, unfortunate, no doubt weak, and as yet unable to refund the money — but on this ground you, Mr Greeley, could never have accused me of being habitually “unscrupulous in the fulfillment of my pecuniary engagements.” The charge is horribly false — I have a hundred times left myself destitute of bread for myself and family that I might discharge debts which the very writer of this infamous accusation (Fuller) would have left undischarged to the day of his death.
The 2d passage underscored embodies a falsehood — and therefore you did not write it. I did not “throw away the quill”. I arose from a sick-bed (although scarcely able to stand or see) and wrote a reply which was published in the Phil. “Sp. of the Times”, and a copy of which reply I enclose you. The “columns of the Mirror” were tendered to me — with a proviso that I should forego a suit and omit this passage and that passage, to suit the purposes of Mr Fuller.
I have now placed the matter before you — I should not hope or ask for justice from any other man (except perhaps one) in America — but from you I demand and expect it. You will see, at once, that so gross a wrong, done in your name, dishonors yourself and me. If you do differ then, as I know you do, from these editorial opinions supposed to be yours — I beg of you to do by me as you would have me do by you in a similar case — disavow them.
With high respect Yours [tr] Edgar A. Poe
[S:0 - MS, 18xx] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Letters - Poe to H. Greeley (LTR250/RCL672)
(4) Washington Irving to Edgar Allen Poe
Newburg, November 6, 1839,
Dear Sir, — The magazine you were so kind as to send me, being directed to New York, instead of Tarrytown, did not reach me for some time. This, together with an unfortunate habit of procrastination, must plead my apology for the tardiness of my reply. I have read your little tale of “William Wilson “ with much pleasure. It is managed in a highly picturesque style, and the singular and mysterious interest is well sustained throughout. I repeat what I have said in regard to a previous production, which you did me the favor to send me, that I cannot but think a series of articles of like style and merit would be extremely well received by the public.
I could add for your private ear, that I think the last tale much the best, in regard to style. It is simpler. In your first you have been too anxious to present your picture vividly to the eye, or too distrustful of your effect, and have laid on too much coloring. It is erring on the best side — the side of luxuriance. That tale might be improved by relieving the style from some of the epithets. There is no danger of destroying its graphic effect, which is powerful. With best wishes for your success,
I am, my dear sir, yours respectfully, Washington Irving
(5) Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to Edgar Allen Poe
Text: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to Edgar Allan Poe — May 19, 1841
Cambridge May 19, 1841
Your favor of the 3rd inst. with the two Nos. of the Magazine reached me only a day or two ago, which will account [[. . . .]] a more speedy answer was not returned.
I am much obliged to you for your kind expressions of regard, and to Mr. Graham for his very generous offer, of which I should gladly avail myself under other circumstances. But I am so much occupied at present that I could not do it with any satisfaction either to you or to myself. I must therefore respectfully decline his proposition.
You are mistaken in supposing [page 2:] that you are not “favorably known to me.” On the contrary, all that I have read, from your pen, has inspired me with a high idea of your power; and <I think> you are destined to stand among the first romance-writers of the country, if such be your aim.
Very Truly Yours
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