Text: Richard Kopley, “Edgar Allan Poe and the Philadelphia Saturday News,” Baltimore: The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore, 1991


­ [title page:]

The Philadelphia Saturday News


Associate Professor of English

Pennsylvania State University

Dubios Campus


Published by the Enoch Pratt Free Library

The Edgar Allan Poe Society

and the Library of the University of Baltimore


[page 1, unnumbered:]

Editor Edgar Allan Poe concluded the July, 1836, issue of the Southern Literary Messenger with a supplement composed of forty reviews of the Messenger; in the lower right-hand corner of the inside back wrapper appears the final review, a distinctly favorable one of the June issue from The Philadelphia Saturday News and Literary Gazette. It reads, in part:

This magazine, from its commencement, has been an especial favorite with us; but it is not so well known at the North as its merits deserve. One of its distinguishing characteristics is the bold, independent tone of its criticism: a rare virtue in these modern times; and it has ability equal to its fearlessness. The reader of the Messenger is always sure of having the real sentiments of those who preside over its columns strongly and clearly expressed, and if not in every instance in accordance with his own, they have, at least, sincerity to recommend them. . . .(1)

This review, appearing as a kind of “last word” in the supplement, is the first word on the subject by editors Joseph C. Neal and Morton McMichael in the Saturday News; it appeared in Volume 1, Number 1, of their newspaper, dated 2 July, 1836.(2) The Saturday News, a weekly paper, would run through 5 January, 1839, and would feature further comment on Poe’s criticism — often positive, with occasional reservations — and would also praise his poetry and fiction. It is likely that Poe, an assiduous reader of newspapers, would have continued to read the Saturday News — not only did the editors esteem his work, but one of these editors was significantly known to him: Morton McMichael had included several of Poe’s early tales in the Philadelphia Saturday Courier.(3) Poe would come to write of him, “. . . we have the highest respect for the judgment of Mr. McMichael” (H XV, 256; see also XV, 224). Furthermore, the newspaper would have been eminently accessible to Poe. As editor of the Messenger from December, 1835, through early January, 1837, Poe would have received the paper in exchange; as a resident of Philadelphia from early 1838 on,(4) Poe could easily have obtained the paper in the city. During the early part of his residence in Philadelphia — the final months of the publication of the Saturday News — Poe would find in this weekly not only an encomium for his recent fiction The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, but also news items that would prove suggestive for his future fiction. A careful reading of the two-and-one-half-year run of the Saturday News reveals both new evidence regarding Poe’s contemporary reputation and hitherto unexamined news stories which Poe transformed for his stories — most crucially and extensively, for the first of his detective stories — the first modern detective story — “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.”

The Saturday News came into being when publisher Charles W. Alexander “transferred his interest” in the Gentleman’s Vade Mecum: or the Sporting Dramatic Companion to Louis A. Godey, Joseph C. Neal, and Morton McMichael.(5) Godey was to be publisher of the new, more sizable [page 2:] paper, and Neal and McMichael were to be editors. At the time, Godey was already publisher of The Lady’s Book;(6) and Neal, former editor of the Vade Mecum, was editor of the Pennsylvanian, a newspaper from which Poe had drawn a favorable notice of the Messenger for the supplement to the January, 1836, issue.(7) McMichael, Alderman of Spring Garden, had been editor of the Saturday Evening Post, and then, from 1831 to 1835, of the Philadelphia Saturday Courier. In 1831, he, Alexander, and other Philadelphia literati had judged the Courier’s short story contest, one to which Poe had submitted his work. While the contest committee did not select any of Poe’s stories as the winning entry, editor McMichael did publish five of Poe’s tales in the Courier in 1832: “Metzengerstein,” “The Duke De L’Omelette,” “A Tale of Jerusalem,” “A Decided Loss,” and “The Bargain Lost.”(8)

The Saturday News was a large newspaper — it comprised four pages, each of which measured 26-1/4 inches by 20 inches and featured eight columns.(9) The paper was published every Saturday; a yearly subscription cost two dollars. Editorial offices were located at 100 Walnut Street (later at 211 Chesnut Street).(10) According to its editors, the Saturday News would be “an agreeable and instructive miscellany — a medium through which a large amount of choice literature may be obtained for a trifling equivalent — a vehicle for independent criticism. . . .”(11) These goals did not go unmet. The Saturday News evidently proved “agreeable” — by November, 1836, Godey and his editors could assert that “. . . the subscription list has increased with a constancy and rapidity never equalled in this city . . .”; by March, 1838, they laid claim to 15,000 subscribers — impressive even if adjusted for editorial enthusiasm.(12) The Saturday News typically featured, on page one, an excerpt from a British annual or periodical — “choice literature,” perhaps written by Theodore Hook or Frederick Marryat — and, on pages two, three, and four, the news of the day (sometimes reprinted, often with an eye towards the novel, the strange, the amusing); theatre, book, and journal reviews; and additional literary items. Neal’s “City Worthies” sketches were a staple of the Saturday News; other pieces were contributed by such Philadelphia writers as Robert Montgomery Bird, Richard Penn Smith, Robert T. Conrad, and William E. Burton. Among the most celebrated American writers whose works were reprinted in the Saturday News were Washington Irving, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Oliver Wendell Holmes.(13) The “independent criticism” of Neal and McMichael also distinguished the Saturday News; the editors reviewed a variety of theatrical performances, and book and journal publications with clarity and force.(14) They regularly reviewed the Southern Literary Messenger — perhaps more frequently than they reviewed any other periodical. Their comments on the Messenger — especially concerning Poe’s contributions to it — warrant attention. [page 3:]

Neal and McMichael’s comments in the first review, already cited, reveal the editors’ familiarity with the Messenger since its inception, and therefore with Poe’s earlier Messenger reviews, poems, and tales; these remarks also establish the editors’ next regard for the candor and incisiveness of Poe’s criticism. This regard is evident, too, in the editors’ next review of the Messenger, that of the July, 1836, issue; Neal and McMichael mention Poe’s “just criticism,” “impartial opinions,” and “vigorous language,” and then go a step further. The editors echo Poe’s description of America’s initial excessive “subserviency” to European literature and his criticism of the subsequent “indiscriminate puffing” of American books (H VIII, 276-77) by noting the earlier neglect of American authors and criticizing the ensuing tendency to “praise without distinction every native production.” They then vividly imagine the negative effect of this tendency: “. . . we were likely to be overrun with a swarm of literary adventurers whose only merit consisted in a vainglorious conceit of their own superiority.” Neal and McMichael recall Poe’s introductory remark concerning the novel Paul Uric — “. . . as one of the class of absurdities with an inundation of which our country is grievously threatened — we shall have no hesitation . . . in exposing . . . its four hundred and forty-three pages of utter folly. . .” (H VIII, 178-79) — by adding, “It [the Messenger] took a bold stand against the authors of the trash that was flooding the country in all directions, and by promptly attacking some of the principals, and exposing and ridiculing their follies, gave a better direction to public opinion on the subject.”(15) The editors allude not only to the author of Paul Ulric, Morris Mattson, but also to such other “principals” as novelist Theodore S. Fay (Norman Leslie) and poets Joseph Rodman Drake (The Culprit Fay) and Fitz-Greene Halleck (Alnwick Castle).(16) And as if to help give “a better direction to public opinion on the subject,” Neal and McMichael not only support Poe’s keen criticism in their reviews of the June and July, 1836, issues of the Messenger, but also soon thereafter reprint Poe’s poem “The City of Sin” in their review of the August, 1836, Messenger.

Appearing at the close of the third review of Poe’s journal in the Saturday News, this poem was published as it had appeared in the Messenger, with minor alterations of punctuation, capitalization, and spelling, and two modifications of language, very likely printer’s errors: “that wilderness of glass” became “the wilderness of glass,” and the “shadows there” became the “shadows here.” The editors graciously introduce the work as “a specimen of the poetic talent of the editor of the Messenger.”(17) Revised, the poem would later he published as the classic “The City in the Sea” (M I, 201-02).

In their next review of the Messenger, that of the September, 1836 [page 4:] issue, Neal and McMichael briefly remark, “The critical notices are not numerous, but they are discreet and shrewd,” and they observe that Poe’s praise of Mrs. Lydia Maria Child’s novel Philothea: A Romance and Robert Montgomery Bird’s novel Sheppard Lee is well merited.(18) In their review of the October, 1836, Messenger, the editors return, with some feeling, to the theme of their review of the July number — the undeserved approbation of much American writing, and the Messenger’s worthy attacks on the unworthy. Again calling to mind Poe’s remarks concerning “indiscriminate puffing,” they attack “stereotyped commendation” of “the best and the worst” American works, an “indiscriminate mode of bestowing applause” which “encouraged a tribe of shallow-pated persons to glut the market with their trash.” Neat and McMichael commend the Messenger, whose “severe criticisms” “made some of the brood of pretended authors stare, and taught them that they could no longer offend with impunity.”(19) While the editors later in this piece disagree with some of Poe’s views, particularly his negative comments regarding G. P. R, James, they continue to agree with Poe’s stern and reasoned censure of mediocre American works — a censure best illustrated in the October, 1836, Messenger by Poe’s review of Mrs. L. F. Morgan’s novel, The Swiss Heiress.(20) Their pejorative use of the term “brood” with regard to the offending writers (who are thus demoted from a “tribe,” but promoted from a “swarm”) anticipates an extended figure Neal and McMichael would elaborate in their comment on the January, 1837, issue of the Messenger.

The Saturday News’ harshest criticism of the Messenger under Poe’s editorship is reserved for the November, 1836, number — “the weakest number of the volume which it closes,” one whose critical notices are “inferior.” Yet in view of this indictment, the Saturday News review of the November Messenger attests further to the high opinion of Neal and McMichael concerning Poe since they add that “the reputed editor,” a man of “unquestionable talent,” “. . . we suspect is at present absent from his post. . . .”(21) In fact, Poe had acknowledged in the Messenger only that he had not given “the usual attention to our Critical Department”; all three of the reviews in this issue have been authoritatively attributed to Poe.(22)

At the close of the January, 1837, issue of the Southern Literary Messenger, proprietor T. W. White notes that “. . . Mr. POE, who has filled the editorial department for the last twelve months, with so much ability, retired from that situation on the 3d inst. . . . ”(23) In their review of the January issue, Neal and McMichael respond to this development fully in a qualified tribute:

We are sorry to lose Mr. Poe, who, although occasionally severe in his strictures, and sometimes, perhaps a little unjust, generally exhibited a boldness and independence, [page 5:] which entitled him to much commendation. Certain it is that his fearlessness in exposing literary pretensions has not been without a strikingly good effect upon the subjects of his censures, and we may add, generally, on the literature of the country. Occasionally, it is true, he suffered his desire to appear honest, to lead him into unmerited abuse; but, whatever individual chagrin he may have produced in this way, was compensated by the advantage gained in the community.

The editors then transform the “brood” of untalented American authors into jackdaws (a species already mentioned by Poe in connection with Morris Mattson [H VIII, 181]): “The claws, feeling that a quick and unrelenting marksman was abroad, were careful how they fluttered their wings, within the range of his observation.” They add, later in their review, both their objection to the substantial attention to metrics in Poe’s review of William Cullen Bryant’s Poems, and their assessment of the issue’s “Tales” (which included the first installment of Pym) as “very readable.”(24) The editors’ tempered appreciation is repeated eight months later when Neal and McMichael refer to the former criticisms of the Messenger, stating “. . . though the opinions they expressed were oftentimes questionable, and occasionally indefensible, [they] won from the conductors of the newspaper press general and warm approbation, on account of their fearlessness and independence.” The editors continue, “As we really admired the frankness they [the criticisms] exhibited, we cheerfully contributed our share of applause, and assisted to swell the chorus which, in their praise, rose from the daily and weekly presses in every section of the land.” Neal and McMichael conclude, “Recently, the writer of the papers adverted to has withdrawn from the pages of the Messenger, and with him has gone the spirit which gave vitality to its critical department.”(25) Their last word touching on Poe’s criticism appeared in the Saturday News three months later. Referring to the first three numbers of the New York Review — in the second of which Poe had published his unsigned piece on John L. Stephens’ Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petraea, and The Holy Land (H X, 1-25) — Neal and McMichael assert, “The numbers of the Review thus far published have been marked by much ability. The articles generally display extensive information, sagacious and acute criticism: and a high and a manly tone of feeling.”(26) The few remaining critical comments of the Saturday News concerning Poe pertain to his “very readable” novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.

The editors were not disposed to be receptive to a nautical novelthey acknowledge in a November, 1837, review of Captain Frederick Chamier’s nautical work The Arethusa that they are sated with sea fiction: “Tales of the sea have become so frequent of late years that they begin to pall upon the appetite.”(27) While The Arethusa escapes their censure for its “air of freshness,” William Johnson Neale’s novel Gentleman Jack, six [page 6:] weeks later, does not. And in their review of this book, Neal and McMichael restate their complaint: “. . . the constantly-repeated dose begins to pall upon the appetite.”(28) Despite this view, the Saturday News of 4 August, 1838, acclaims Poe’s just-published nautical novel Pym: “From the casual glance at different pages, which we have been enabled to give, we perceive that it abounds in the wild and wonderful, and it is apparently written with great ability.”(29) We may infer that this high praise was written by Morton McMichael since he later writes in his review of Poe’s Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque that Poe has produced “some of the most vivid scenes of the wild and wonderful which can be found in English literature.”(30)

It is interesting to learn that a month after the Saturday News’ comments on Pym appeared, “A brilliant Soiree” (in the words of the New York Evening Star) was held for Morton McMichael and Louis A. Godey at the American Hotel in New York City.(31) Since Poe had recently left New York City for Philadelphia, and since the Harpers of New York City had just published Poe’s Pym, reviewed by McMichael in a newspaper published by Godey, and by another, perhaps editor Mordecai M. Noah, in the Evening Star,(32) it would seem likely that McMichael, Godey, and those honoring the two men at the American Hotel-including “authors, artists, poets, critics, editors” — would have discussed Poe and his singular book. Possible evidence for this conjecture, suggesting that “the wild and wonderful” in Pym was a recognized topic of the day, may be found in an editorial comment offered in the Saturday News shortly after McMichael returned to Philadelphia from New York City.(33) In a note on The Lady’s Book in the 15 September, 1838, issue, Neal and McMichael write (or perhaps McMichael alone writes), “We dare not mention what is the present circulation of this work, lest we should be suspected to be of the Arthur Gordon Pym school.”(34)

The commentary of the Saturday News on Poe’s work is useful for understanding Poe’s contemporary reputation. The newspaper’s reviews of his reviews serve to confirm that Poe’s Messenger criticism was much admired by some in its day. In the case of the Saturday News, Poe’s criticism was admired especially for its salutary effect on American literature — its astute evaluations, its warranted condemnations and commendations, were believed to help establish a standard and thus discourage the mediocre and encourage the able. The degree of the newspaper’s admiration for Poe’s criticism is compellingly revealed by the fact that in spite of what the editors considered Poe’s criticism’s occasional unjust denunciations (its “unmerited abuse”), the Saturday News maintained its support, continued to laud the “critical department” of the Southern Literary Messenger under Poe, even months after he had left. Also, the newspaper’s brief [page 7:] commentary on Poe’s “The City of Sin” and The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym serves to suggest that Poe’s reputation as a poet and fiction writer was already developed, and in ascendance — indeed, the “great ability” that McMichael attributes to the author of Pym in his Saturday News review would, in seventeen months, come to be termed by the same writer “genius.”(35)

Even as it sheds light on the growth of Poe’s contemporary reputation, the Saturday News also illuminates the birth of a genre. Further attention to this important newspaper leads to the discovery of a series of mostly unrelated pieces which Poe brilliantly metamorphosed for what Joseph C. Neal’s Pennsylvanian called “a tale of powerful interest,” “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.”(36) These pieces may be identified as the “newspaper accounts” postulated by Killis Campbell in 1933 from which “Rue Morgue” “was . . . in every likelihood drawn.”(37)

Poe’s practice of adapting Saturday News pieces for literary purposes is intimated by correspondences in detail between several of these pieces and later Poe works such as “Ligeia,” “The Journal of Julius Rodman,” and “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Poe may well have transmuted the “liquid ruby” wine of “An Octogenary, Fifty Year Since” into Ligeia’s “ruby colored fluid” (M II, 325); and probably the bear and man grappling, rolling together “over the edge of a precipice” in “Bear Story” into the bear which “hung over the precipice” and attacked a man in “Julius Rodman” (P 1, 579).(38) Moreover, Poe almost certainly transformed the ancestral estate featuring a lake and a great mansion with a library, old pictures, and an “Usher” who takes the invited stranger, the narrator, down to the cellar, from “Life of an English Nobleman,” into similar elements of setting and plot in “Usher” (M II, 397-417).(39) Evidently, Poe’s transmutation of Saturday News pieces for “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” was part of a larger pattern. The pieces Poe came to refashion for “Rue Morgue” appeared in mid- and late-1838, a period during which, Arthur Hobson Quinn has observed, Poe read other periodical pieces he would come to draw upon for the tale — short narratives in a series titled “Unpublished Passages in the Life of Vidocq, the French Minister of Police,” a likely source for Monsieur Dupin.(40)

The first of the suggestive Saturday News pieces, titled simply “Orang Outang,” was published on 26 May, 1838.(41) Since Poe and his family had moved to Philadelphia in early 1838, he would very likely have encountered this Saturday News piece when it appeared, and well before reading the Pennsylvania Inquirer item “An Ourang Outang,” published on 1 July, 1839.(42) A number of earlier plausible sources for Poe’s orangoutang have been proposed, including an 1823 Blackwood’s article, an 1831 Scott novel, [page 8:] and the 1834 Annual Register;(43) none of them, however, would have been as immediate for Poe as this Saturday News article. The piece, which discusses a remarkable ape in the London Zoo, offers, like “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” an orangoutang of characteristic “prodigious” strength (M II, 559) which recovers from its voyage from Borneo, attempts to break out of its confinement, and, excited, engages in “unusual activity” (M II, 555), including dragging a heavy piece of furniture across the floor (M II, 564-67). And while the London Zoo orangoutang repeatedly crosses its “latticed enclosure,” Poe’s orangoutang grasps a “latticed” shutter to enter Madame L‘Espanaye’s room (MI, 554, 565). These common details are provocative, but, of course, not indicative that Poe would have conceived of “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” after reading this item — in fact, he probably did not fully imagine the work until 1839, after the Saturday News had ceased publication. As will be seen, Poe would have read all the relevant Saturday News pieces before elaborating the plot of his first detective story. In 1839, he would probably have remembered details of this Saturday News article for elements of “Rue Morgue” and, in light of the correspondences noted here, reread “Orang Outang” in a saved clipping or in a file copy of the 26 May, 1838, issue of the Saturday News, owned, borrowed, or at least consulted by him. That Poe would very likely have owned newspaper files in 1839 is suggested by the testimony of bookseller William Gowans, who lodged with Poe in New York City in 1837: “Poe . . . had a library made up of newspapers, magazines bound and unbound, with what books had been presented to him. . . .”(44) That Poe would have consulted newspaper files in 1839 is suggested by his February, 1840, review of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Voices of the Night, in which Poe mentions “looking over a file of newspapers, not long ago . . .” (H X, 72).

Critically, Poe’s transmutation of the Saturday News “orang outang” into the murderous orangoutang of the Rue Morgue would have been significantly assisted by a subsequent Saturday News piece, one concerning the murderous behavior of a human, Edward Coleman. The story, titled “Deliberate Murder in Broadway, at Midday,” appeared in the 4 August, 1838, issue of the newspaper adjacent to the McMichael review of Pym; Poe would not have missed it.(45)

According to this Saturday News piece, Edward Coleman, a black man, suspected his wife Ann of infidelity — perhaps with good reason — and, when walking with her down Broadway near Walker Street, opposite Jollie’s Music Store, at approximately 11 a.m. on Saturday, 28 July, 1838, he slit her throat with a razor. The article offers relevant background information on the couple, an account of Coleman’s arrest, and a description of his effort to appear insane while in prison. The story would have intrigued Poe. [page 9:] In view of his recent stay in New York City, he would have been familiar with the site of the murder — when in New York City, he would probably have passed it while walking or riding between his Sixth Avenue home or Carmine Street home and William Gowans’ lower Broadway bookshop or the City Hotel.(46) Furthermore, judging from Poe’s fiction — especially “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Black Cat” (M III, 792-97; 849-59) — and his reportorial piece, “The Trial of James Wood,”(47) Poe would have been fascinated by the themes of murder and insanity.

The important correspondences between the Saturday News piece on Coleman’s murder of his wife and Poe’s tale of an orangoutang’s murder of two women involve distinctly similar language. The newspaper story characterizes Coleman’s act as an “atrocious murder”; Poe’s story refers to the orangoutang’s act as “a murder so singularly atrocious” (M II, 557). The news story states that Coleman murdered his wife by “nearly severing her head from her body with a razor,” and later reasserts that Coleman’s razor “nearly severed her head from her body”; Poe’s work states of the razor-flourishing orangoutang, “With one determined sweep of its muscular arm it nearly severed her head from her body” (M II, 566-67).(48) Tellingly, the pronouns “its” and “it” were, in the earliest versions of Poe’s story, “his” and “he” (M II, 567n). The Saturday News piece refers to Coleman’s then “dropping her [his dead wife] upon the pavement”; Poe’s tale relates that the orangoutang “hurled [the body of Madame L‘Espanaye] through the window headlong” (M II, 567) to “the stone pavement” (M II, 557). Finally, the Saturday News piece asserts that, feigning insanity in prison (on the advice of his counsel, it is implied), Coleman responded to questions with answers “of the most outre kind”; Poe’s story remarks on “the outré character of its [the mystery’s] features” (M II, 547) and the “excessively outré” manner in which the younger L‘Espanaye’s body was disposed of (M II, 557). These clear language parallels strongly suggest that Poe adapted this Saturday News account of the Coleman murder for “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” Another language parallel suggests that Poe also adapted the newspaper’s follow-up story for his tale: a piece in the 11 August, 1838, issue, titled “Examination of Coleman,” mentions the murder weapon, “the razor, upon the blade and handle of which there was a great quantity of congealed blood”;(49) Poe’s tale mentions the murder weapon, “a razor, besmeared with blood” (M II, 537). The notable closeness of the verbal correspondences cited tends to lead to the broadening of an earlier view — in all likelihood, Poe not only remembered the salient Saturday News pieces in 1839 as he conceived his tale, but also reread these pieces (including the Coleman items) in clippings or in a file of the newspaper that was available to him. [page 10:]

Poe’s conflation of the murderous Edward Coleman and the orangoutang of the London Zoo in “Rue Morgue” leads to an important effect — the crime becomes even more sensational and appears insoluble, requiring the acumen of the gifted detective whom Poe wished to introduce. Yet the association of Black American and orangoutang is unarguably racist. A characteristic late-twentieth-century American sensibility is particularly offended by this linking. However, a typical early- or mid-nineteenth-century American sensibility was very likely less sensitive to this linking, and Poe, sharing elements of this sensibility, may have shared the insensitivity. Remarkably, in making this association, Poe again transmuted an item from the Saturday News — an article in a later issue, to be mentioned hereafter, which explicitly relates a black man to an orangoutang.

The linking of man and ape in “Rue Morgue” is cogently discussed by one scholar in connection with Richard Wright’s “ironic inversion” of the tale in his novel Native Son. Linda T. Prior concludes, “Poe’s murderer, . . . an ape, is assumed by the authorities to be a man; Wright’s murderer, a man, is assumed to be an ape.”(50) Perhaps Wright had this inversion in mind when he wrote in the essay which introduced Native Son that he had employed “imaginative terms . . . known and acceptable to a common body of readers.”(51) If so, then an “ironic inversion” of creative process may be noted as well: Poe modified details from a well-known news story about a murderous black man for his tale of a murderous ape; Wright modified details from Poe’s well-known story of a murderous ape for his novel about a murderous black man.(52) The influence of the Saturday News story on Poe may be recalled when one considers the striking conclusion of Wright’s essay: “. . . if Poe were alive, he would not have to invent horror; horror would invent him.”(53) Doubtless Richard Wright was correct about Poe in 1940, but the pieces on the Coleman murder — and other Saturday News pieces concerning similarly appalling events — suggest that horror also helped to invent Poe in 1838.

The 18 August, 1838, issue of the Saturday News offered no further information on the Coleman murder, but it did include “Life of an English Nobleman,” the very probable “Usher” source, as well as an untitled piece next to it concerning a French woman whose former servant had robbed her, tried to rob her again, and was believed to have intended to stab her to death. The police searched her house and discovered the culprit. The piece refers to the thief’s likely object, “the iron box containing her jewelry,” suggestive of the “small iron safe,” “the iron chest” of the L‘Espanayes which contained “some papers” and had probably contained Madame L‘Espanaye’s two bags of gold francs, and other valuables (M II, 537-38, 566).(54) In imagining the scene beheld by the orangoutang as it swung into [page 11:] the bedroom of the L‘Espanayes — an older woman and a younger one positioned near this iron chest in the middle of the room — Poe may well have drawn from this untitled piece and a later important Saturday News piece, to be discussed.

The issues of the Saturday News of late August and early September provided Poe with little material, but the issue of 15 September, which featured the comment concerning the “Arther [[Authur]] Gordon Pym school,” featured, too, a piece whose title, “Horrid Murders,” resembles the title of the first newspaper story quoted in “Rue Morgue”: “Extraordinary Murders” (M II, 537). However, while the Saturday News piece includes a series of testimonies, as does the later piece from Poe’s “Gazette des Tribunaux” (M II, 538-44), the testimonies here are markedly different from those in “Rue Morgue.”(55) It is the following issue of the Saturday News, that of 22 September, 1838, which offered Poe a vitally useful piece, elements of which he came to combine with elements of the orangoutang story and the Coleman story for “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” The brief item is titled “A Mischievous Ape.”(56)

The story relates the escape of a “large ape or baboon” on Elizabeth Street in New York City; its venturing through the window of a house and causing havoc within; and its later attacking two small boys in the yard. Again, important correspondences between a Saturday News piece and “Rue Morgue” are apparent. The ape in the Saturday News piece escaped from a “stable”; Dupin asserted near the tale’s close that the orangoutang was at “a livery stable” (M II, 563). The Elizabeth Street ape opened a window in a house and “entered the parlor”; the Rue Morgue ape swung through an open window in a house and “entered the room” (M II, 565). Once chased out of the house, the ape in this news story “seized hold of the hair of a child” and “nearly took his scalp off”; Poe’s orangoutang “seized Madame L‘Espanaye by the hair” (M II, 566) and tore her hair out “by the roots,” revealing “the flesh of the scalp” (M II, 557). The “mischievous ape” “scratched and bit a boy severely in the leg and thigh”; the murderous ape caused “severe scratches” on the face of Mademoiselle L‘Espanaye (M II, 538; see also II, 543), whose tongue had been “partially bitten through” (M II, 543).(57)

These correspondences suggest that when Poe came to imagine “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” in 1839, he fashioned details pertaining to his orangoutang not only from the May, 1838, Saturday News piece on the London Zoo’s orangoutang and the August, 1838, Saturday News pieces on the Coleman murder, but also from this September, 1838, Saturday News piece on the fugitive ape. The closeness of the correspondences again suggests that Poe not only recalled the story, but also reread it. Most [page 12:] noteworthy about his transmutation of specifics of this piece is his focus on the horror and his heightening of it — a process Poe referred to as “the fearful coloured into the horrible.”(58) The tendency towards the horrible in Poe’s writing led Horace Greeley’s New-Yorker to refer to Poe’s tale as “of deep but repulsive interest.”(59) Yet for some readers, the vivid horror of “Rue Morgue” heightens both the mystery and the satisfactoriness of its solution.

The October and November, 1838, issues of the Saturday News included no major stories which Poe adapted for “Rue Morgue”; they did, though, offer interesting minor items: two pieces concerning a Parisian morgue, a reprint of a story from the “Gazette des Tribuneaux” (the newspaper from which Dupin and his friend first learned of the Rue Morgue murders in later versions of the tale), two accounts of a husband’s murder of his wife, and a brief report of the trial and conviction of Edward Coleman for “willful murder.”(60) Issues of the Saturday News for December, 1838, however — among the last of the newspaper’s run — featured pieces crucial to Poe’s imagining his first detective story.

The Saturday News of 1 December reported that Edward Coleman would be executed on 12 January;(61) in a column adjacent to this story is a review of the December issue of Poe’s former journal, the Southern Literary Messenger, and, below that review, a story titled “Deaths in New York.(62) According to this piece, two unknown black women, living in a house at the corner of 34th Street and Third Avenue in New York City, died from suffocation caused by smoke from their lit charcoal furnace.(63) Details of the story anticipate details of “Rue Morgue.” These women, “aged about 40 and 17,” died in their “small upper room,” whose door had to be broken in; the L‘Espanayes, a mother (“the old lady” [M II, 539, 547, 567]) and daughter (“the young lady,” “the girl” [M II, 543, 567]), were murdered in “the upper part of the house,” a fourth story room whose door had to be forced open (M II, 537). Significantly, the two New York women had placed their charcoal furnace “in the middle of the room” and had lain down to sleep on either side of it; the L‘Espanayes had “wheeled” their “iron chest” “into the middle of the room” and had seated themselves in front of it (M II, 566). The evident parallels suggest that Poe employed elements of this story for the scene encountered by the orangoutang in “Rue Morgue.” The “iron chest” in “Rue Morgue” which was substituted for the charcoal furnace of “Deaths in New York” may have been prompted, in part, by “the iron box containing . . . jewelry” in the untitled 18 August Saturday News piece concerning the French woman and the servant-turned-thief. It seems probable that Poe not only remembered these two items, but also reread them before he developed his short story. [page 13:]

Poe’s apparent synthesis of these items is effective. His borrowing the alluring “iron box” from the untitled piece to replace the quotidian furnace of “Deaths in New York” allows his tale to become even more mysterious; his borrowing the two women from “Deaths in New York” to replace the one French woman in the untitled piece and his transforming the 40-year-old into a “childish” “old lady” (M II, 539) permit the murders to become even more dreadful. Both Poe’s selection of details and his transmutation of them seem astute.

One additional detail from the 1 December, 1838, issue of the Saturday News warrants mention. An article titled simply “A Story,” from the New York American, states that a young Indian dancer at the Court in Paris “had . . . produced, by her singular dress, strange exploits and antelope lightness of movement, the extraordinary sensation that every one is eager to experience now at the Theatre des Varietes. . . .”(64) The Théâtre des Variétés — “a place of light entertainment,” according to T. O. Mabbott (M II, 570) — is the theater recommended by Dupin for the cobbler-turned-actor Chantilly, who had failed at tragedy: ” ‘He is a very little fellow, that’s true, and would do better for the Théâtre des Variétés“’ (M II, 534, 537). Poe would have encountered this name in a New-York Mirror piece by N. P. Willis in 1832 (M II, 668); however, the name’s appearance in the Saturday News of 1 December, 1838, was a timely one, and probably the immediate source for Poe’s use of the name in his literary production of “extraordinary sensation.”

The next week’s issue of the Saturday News reprinted the short item on Coleman’s sentencing(65) and offered in an adjacent column a victim’s narrative, “Escape of the Bear from the Liverpool Zoological Garden.(66) This account in the 8 December issue may be a minor source for “Rue Morgue”; it mentions a nearby “man with a basket of nuts for sale,” calling to mind the “fruiterer, carrying upon his head a large basket of apples” (M II, 534), and it details the bear’s biting “completely through” the victim’s left arm, an incident possibly related to the orangoutang’s attack and Mademoiselle L‘Espanaye’s “partially bitten through” tongue (M II, 543). The more important story in this issue, however, appearing below the story of the escaped bear, is titled “Mahometan Worship. ”(67) This piece depicts the coming together of different races and nationalities at an unnamed mosque for Ramadan prayers. The sounds of the service — “a sort of scream,” a “shrill and piercing” “voice,” “a low murmur” — find their correspondences in “Rue Morgue” in “The screams . . . of the old lady” (M II, 566-67), the “shrill voice” of the orangoutang (M II, 540-43, 549, 550, 555), and the murmuring of the narrator (M II, 536), but it is a brief characterization of the worshipers’ appearance which deserves particular attention. The writer refers to, [page 14:] “The Turk in magnificent apparel, squatted beside the squalid, half-naked Biskari; the pale Moor, with noble mein, by the hideous Negro with ourang-outang face. . . .” With that last, obviously racist phrase, the possibility of the conflation of black man and orangoutang is made explicit. Had this synthesis not already occurred to Poe, it is suggested here; had it already struck him, it is reinforced here. That last phrase brings together the Saturday News orangoutang story and escaped-ape story with its Edward Coleman stories and furnishes Poe with the heart of the “Rue Morgue” mystery: the bestial murderer may be a murderous beast.

The linking of black man and orangoutang is plainly objectionable, but the purpose of this linking for Poe’s imagining “Rue Morgue” may not have been racist. Had Poe had such an intent, he might well have explicitly associated his orangoutang with a black man in the text — and he clearly did not. Indeed, the unhumanness of the orangoutang is precisely what Poe emphasized. It would seem that Poe conflated Coleman and orangoutang in “Rue Morgue” for literary effect — in a paraphrase of his own comments, to color the fearful into the horrible, to make the singular into the strange and seemingly mystical.(68) Certainly readers’ enduring regard for Poe’s first detective story attests to the effectiveness of his invention.

While the Saturday News of 15 December, 1838, offered Poe little nourishment for his imagination, the issue of 22 December featured both “Apparent Death,”(69) a piece concerning burial alive which anticipates elements of Poe’s story “The Premature Burial,” and “Appalling Accident,”(70) a piece concerning a man who fell from a building and whose face was “horribly mutilated” — a phrase which anticipates the identical phrase in “Rue Morgue”: the body of Madame L‘Espanaye, which was thrown from a building, was “horribly mutilated” (M II, 543). The penultimate issue of the Saturday News, that of 29 December, 1838, featured the newspaper’s last source for “Rue Morgue”: “Humorous Adventure — Picking Up a Madman.”(71)

This allegedly comical piece concerns the unusual behavior of an insane man, one Abbot, who had been given lodging at a Boston hotel by a “good Samaritan.” Again, the language employed resonates notably with that of “Rue Morgue.” While a Thanksgiving dance and various parties are taking place, Abbot appears as “a wild-looking object, holding on the window shutters outside of the house, and peering into the room.” He is later said to have been “swinging upon the window shutters during the night.” This language is close to that of Dupin when he speculates that the murderer “might have swung the shutter” and “swung himself into the room” of the L‘Espanayes (M II, 555), and similar, too, to that of the French sailor when he admits that the orangoutang “grasped the shutter” and “swung itself [originally ‘himself’]” into the room (M II, 565). Abbot’s [page 15:] “peering into the room” corresponds significantly with the orangoutang owner’s obtaining “a glimpse of the interior of the room” as he held on to the lightning-rod outside the L‘Espanayes’ window. The Saturday News piece later refers to Abbot as “grinning like a yellow monkey,” a phrase which would probably have invited Poe’s imaginative assimilation of this man to his orangoutang. The correspondences presented suggest that Poe adapted this Saturday News piece for “Rue Morgue”; a further correspondence tends to corroborate this view. In “Humorous Adventure-Picking Up a Madman,” it is revealed that Abbot “had recently escaped from an insane Hospital”;(72) in “Rue Morgue,” the narrator responds to Dupin’s analysis of the evidence by stating, “‘A madman . . . has done this deed — some raving maniac, escaped from a neighboring Maison de Santé’ ” (M II, 558). Dupin’s reply is very curious — he says, “‘In some respects, . . . your idea is not irrelevant’ ” (M II, 558). The parallels noted suggest that the narrator’s idea is “not irrelevant” because it covertly acknowledges one of the Saturday News sources for “Rue Morgue.” This reading is strengthened by the fact that no other relevance for the narrator’s comment is apparent. It would seem that with this passage, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” intimates its own origins.

Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that numerous passages in “Rue Morgue” concern newspapers. The narrator refers often to newspapers that he and Dupin read — once to the Musée (M II, 536), five times to the “Gazette des Tribunaux” (M II, 537, 538, 544, 546, 547), and twice to “Le Monde” (M II, 547, 560). He quotes two news stories about the Rue Morgue murders from the “Gazette des Tribunaux” — one composed of five paragraphs (M II, 537-38), the other of seventeen paragraphs (M II, 538-44); he also quotes Dupin’s paragraph-long advertisement in “Le Monde” (M II, 560-61). This newspaper material constitutes approximately one-fifth of Poe’s tale. Particularly suggestive is Dupin’s visit to the office of “Le Monde” — from early 1838 through 4 September, 1838, Poe lived at 202 Mulberry (or Arch) Street, just a few blocks from 211 Chesnut Street, the office of the Saturday News; his new residence at Sixteenth Street and Locust was still within walking distance of that office.(73)

The significance of newspapers in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” arguably reflects their significance in Poe’s imagining this tale — a significance which seems hinted not only in the narrator’s remark about an escaped madman, but also in his earlier remarks about the game of whist — remarks which his later narrative illustrates. Identifying what is necessary for “proficiency in whist,” the narrator cites “a comprehension of all the sources whence legitimate advantage may be derived,” “The . . . knowledge . . . of what to observe,” and the acceptance of “deductions from things [page 16:] external to the game” (M II, 529-30). The narrator’s remarks apply well to “proficiency in whist,” to proficiency in detection, and, markedly, to proficiency in reading about detection. After all, comprehension of the Saturday News “sources” — certainly “external to the game” — does offer considerable “legitimate advantage” in understanding Poe’s creation of a genre.

We may even come to wonder if Poe alludes to his arranging these Saturday News sources when his narrator reveals that at the critical moment that the orangoutang entered the L‘Espanayes’ apartment, mother and daughter were “arranging some papers” (M II, 566) — elsewhere termed “a few old letters, and other papers of little consequence” (M II, 538). We may recall that in “The Purloined Letter,” it was a letter of apparent ,worthlessness” (M III, 991) which was the much-sought treasure.

Even as “Rue Morgue” reveals Dupin’s analysis of the mystery of the murders, it subtly invites analysis of the mystery of its creation. In early versions of the tale, Poe’s narrator characterizes analysis as “the capacity for resolving thought into its elements” (M II, 527n) and thus aptly introduces Dupin’s coming resolution of the narrator’s thought into its elements (M II, 534-37), Dupin’s “retracing the steps” (M II, 535) of the narrator’s cogitations. Applied to reading a story, analysis would seem to be the capacity for resolving a work of literature into its sources, “retracing the steps” of its making. Resolution — analysis — clarifies its converse (according to Poe) — creation (M II, 527n). By unimagining “Rue Morgue,” we may approach Poe’s imagining. Poe’s tale ultimately celebrates the double process of creation and resolution, of imagining and unimagining, of writing and the “kindred art” (H XI, 108) of reading. And as the tale honors this double process, it honors, too, the brotherhood of writer and reader. Furthermore, it appears to anticipate — perhaps prepare the way for — the irradiation and return of Matter and Spirit in Eureka. Indeed, Poe’s enigmatic cosmological prose-poem may be interpretable, at least in part, as an allegory of writing and reading.

Resolving “Rue Morgue” into its elements — the Saturday News sources, the “newspaper accounts” Killis Campbell once posited — does not challenge Poe’s originality: Poe wrote in June, 1845, “To originate is carefully, patiently, and understandingly to combine” (P III, 137). And he acknowledged in January, 1840, “The wildest and most vigorous effort of the mind cannot stand the test of . . . analysis” (H X, 62; see also P III, 16). To undo Poe’s combination is therefore not to undo his reputation. And, it should be added, reliance on newspapers for the writing of fiction has long been a respectable practice among American writers — Herman Melville’s reliance on newspapers for his own literary imaginings is a good case in point.(74) It is on the quality of its combination that a literary work may be judged. In this [page 17:] regard, Poe wrote of Imagination in January, 1845, “Even out of deformities it fabricates that Beauty which is at once its sole object and its inevitable test” (P III, 17; see also II, 369). Out of the Saturday News stories — many horrific and therefore classifiable as “deformities” — Poe fabricated a story which does possess beauty. The “deformities” are combined harmoniously, seemingly seamlessly, and with great novelty and economy. A unity of effect — a sense of wonder at Dupin’s acuity — is evident, and the unity of theme — the doubleness of creation and resolution — is skillfully reflected in the story’s unity of design, a symmetry of event and language.(75) if, as Poe suggests in January, 1840, “a creation of intellect” is akin to a griffin — both seem new but are made up of already — existing parts (H X, 62; P III, 16) — then perhaps “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” may be termed one of the finest specimens of griffin that Poe ever imagined.

In the 29 December, 1838, issue of the Saturday News — the same in which “Humorous Adventure” appeared — Godey, Neal, and McMichael announce the cessation of the Saturday News for causes “that need not be mentioned.” They refer only to the “other pursuits” of the proprietors, “avocations . . . of a higher and more important character.”(76) In the subsequent and final issue, that of 5 January, 1839, Godey states that the Saturday News will not be discontinued but rather “will be issued by Mr. Samuel C. Atkinson, jointly with the Saturday Evening Post.”(77) Thus ended the career of The Philadelphia Saturday News and Literary Gazette.

On 12 January, 1839, Edward Coleman was executed in New York City.(78) In June, 1839, Poe became Assistant Editor of Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine. William Burton held a dinner party for him — one attended by, among others, Louis A. Godey, Joseph C. Neal, and Morton McMichael.(79) In September of the year, Neal praised Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” in the Pennsylvanian; in December, he favorably reviewed there Poe’s Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque.(80) According to the present reading, at some time or times during this year, Poe reread issues of the recently absorbed Saturday News and, relying on a number of its stories, conceived and began to elaborate “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” It is possible that Poe was able to reread these issues in a file he owned or borrowed, or in one he could examine at the office of the newspaper which had bought the Saturday News, the Saturday Evening Post — edited, and soon owned, by Poe’s associate, and future employer and publisher of his work, George R. Graham.(81) Of particular note in this regard is the fact that, in 1839, one of those who contributed to the Post and may have helped edit that paper was Poe’s friend Lambert Wilmer.(82)

The Saturday News — “Rue Morgue” connection may be briefly recapitulated. The “hideous Negro with ourang-outang face” in the Saturday [page 18:] News piece “Mahometan Worship” suggested or reinforced the idea of the synthesis of Saturday News stories concerning an orangoutang and an ape — “Orang Outang” and “A Mischievous Ape” — with the paper’s stories concerning a Black American’s murder of his wife — “Deliberate Murder in Broadway, at Midday” and “Examination of Coleman.” A Saturday News piece concerning an insane man swinging from window shutters and looking into a room, “Humorous Adventure-Picking Up a Madman,” provided Poe with details for the activity of his orangoutang and its owner. A Saturday News story about an older woman and a younger one who suffocated when they slept near a charcoal furnace in the middle of their room — “Deaths in New York” — led to the scene that Poe’s orangoutang encountered on entering the fourth floor window: an older woman and a younger one seated near an “iron chest” in the middle of the room. The chest might have been suggested by the “iron box” in the untitled Saturday News piece about the French woman and the servant-turned-thief; some language regarding Madame L‘Espanaye might have been offered in Saturday News items “Appalling Accident” and “Escape of the Bear from the Liverpool Zoological Garden.” Additional important details were probably supplied by such Saturday News pieces as “Horrid Murders” (an item offering a title close to that of one of Poe’s newspaper stories), “The New Caspar Hauser” (a reprint from the “Gazette des Tribuneaux”), and “A Story” (an account featuring “the Theatre des Varietes”).

In 1840, Poe would very likely have continued to reshape these Saturday News items for “Rue Morgue.” Pertinently, in January of that year, Morton McMichael lauded Poe’s Tales in The Lady’s Book.(83) And in Septem ber, 1840, Dr. Socrates Maupin wrote Poe a letter mentioning Poe’s acquaintance C. Auguste Dubouchet — these two names Poe may well have adapted for his detective in “Rue Morgue.“’(84) Dated “Philadelphia March, 1841,” Poe’s story appeared in March in the April, 1841, issue of Graham’s Magazine.(85)

Some of the readers of Philadelphia’s Graham’s Magazine in 1841 would surely have been readers of the Philadelphia Saturday News in 1838. Yet there is no evidence that anyone recognized the Saturday News stories in Poe’s story. Perhaps these readers are well described in Poe’s narrator’s mention of “men . . . who find themselves upon the brink of remembrance, without being able, in the end, to remember” (M II, 555). However, memory lost is not necessarily irrecoverable, even one hundred and fifty years later. We need only consult the famous epigraph to Poe’s tale for confirmation: “What song the Syrens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, although puzzling questions, are not beyond all conjecture” (M II, 527).

[page 19:]


1.  “From the Philadelphia Saturday News,” “Supplement,” Southern Literary Messenger, July, 1836, p. 525 (PP).

I wish to thank Dr. Jacqueline Schoch, former Chief Executive Officer of the Penn State, DuBois Campus; Dr. John W. Furlow, Jr., Director of Academic Affairs for the Penn State, DuBois Campus; and the DuBois Educational Foundation for their support and encouragement of the research for this work. The contributions of Barbara Emmer, former Head Librarian, DuBois Campus library; Karen Fuller, Assistant Librarian, DuBois Campus library; the staff of the DuBois Campus library; and Janet Spearly, Secretary, DuBois Campus, were considerable and much appreciated. I have benefited much from the very useful and welcome comments offered on an early draft of this essay by Erella Brown, Susan R. Delaney, Victor Doyno, Benjamin Franklin Fisher IV, Norman George, Joseph J. Moldenhauer, Burton Pollin, Kenneth Silverman, Dwight Thomas, Stanley Weintraub, and Philip Young. I am indebted to the librarians and resources of the American Antiquarian Society, the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Library of Congress, Low Library of Columbia University, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Municipal Archives of New York City, the Museum of the City of New York, the Nantucket Atheneum, the New-York Historical Society, New York Public Library, Pattee Library of The Pennsylvania State University, The State Historical Society of Wisconsin, and the State Library of Pennsylvania. Finally, I wish to express my gratitude to Susan F. Beegel, who suggested that I visit the Nantucket Atheneum, where this study began, and to Sue Kellerman, who recommended that I consult the Library of Congress, where this study ended.

The following abbreviations for Poe’s texts are used: H for The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. James A. Harrison, 17 vols. (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1902); M for Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. Thomas Ollive Mabbott, 3 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969-78); and P for Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. Burton R. Pollin, 4 vols. to date (Boston: Twayne, 1981; New York: Gordian Press, 1985- ).

2.  Rev. of the Southern Literary Messenger (June, 1836), The Philadelphia Saturday News, 2 July, 1836, p. 131, col. 2 (MWA).

3.  John Grier Varner, Edgar Allan Poe and The Philadelphia Saturday Courier (Charlottesville: University of Virginia, 1933), pp. iiin, iv.

4.  According to Dwight Thomas and David K. Jackson in The Poe Log — A Documentary Life of Edgar Allan Poe 1809-1849 (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1987), it was “early in 1838” that Poe and his wife and mother-in-law moved from New York City to Philadelphia (pp. 247-48).

5.  Louis A. Godey, Joseph C. Neal, and Morton McMichael, “A Card,” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 2 July, 1836, p. [21, col. 1 (MWA). For background on Charles W. Alexander, see Clarence S. Brigham, “Edgar Allan Poe’s Contributions to Alexander’s Weekly Messenger,” Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, 52 (April, 1942), 51-52.

6.  Bertha Monica Stearns, “Godey, Louis Antoine,” Dictionary of American Biography (1931). Godey publicized the Saturday News in The Lady’s Book; see especially “To the Patrons of the Lady’s Book,” The Lady’s Book, XII (June, 1836), 283; “A Publishing Month,” The Lady’s Book, XIII (July, 1836), 46; and “The Philadelphia Saturday News and Literary Gazette,” The Lady’s Book, XIV (January, 1837), 48. [page 20:]

7.  N. E. McClure, “Neal, Joseph Clay,” Dictionary of American Biography (1934); see also McMichael’s essay “Joseph C. Neal,” Graham’s Magazine, February, 1844, pp. 49-52, and two recent essays, David E. E. Sloane’s “Joseph C. Neal” in American Humorists: 1800-1950, Vol. II of Dictionary of Literary Biography (Detroit: Gale, 1982), pp. 344-49, and this writer’s “Neal, Joseph Clay” in the forthcoming Encyclopedia of American Literature (New York: Ungar). For Poe’s inclusion of the Pennsylvanian’s critique of the Messenger in the January, 1836, issue of his periodical, see “Supplement to the Southern Literary Messenger,” Southern Literary Messenger, January, 1836, p. 135.

8.  For early works concerning Morton McMichael, see John W. Forney, Memorial Address Upon the Character and Public Services of Morton McMichael, As Editor, Public Officer, and Citizen (Philadelphia: Sherman & Co., 1879) and “Morton McMichael, and Many Other Pennsylvania Men” in Anecdotes of Public Men, 2 vols. (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1873-81), II, 115-22; Albert Mordell, ed., in Re Morton McMichael (privately printed, 1921); and Albert C. Baugh, “McMichael, Morton,” Dictionary of American Biography (1933). For a recent sketch, see Howard Gillette, Jr., “McMichael, Morton,” Biographical Dictionary of American Mayors, 1820-1880 — Big City Mayors, ed. Melvin G. Holli and Peter d‘A. Jones (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1981), pp. 237-38. For details regarding the Courier’s short story contest and the newspaper’s publication of five of Poe’s early tales, see Thomas and Jackson, pp. 120-28. Consult also Varner, pp. iii-iv.

9.  These measurements were taken from the first page of the first issue of the Saturday News, that of 2 July, 1836, which is bound (MWA). The Saturday News of 26 November, 1836, the “mammoth” issue, featured eight pages (P); the issue of 7 January, 1837, offered a two-page “Gems and Flowers” supplement (MWA).

10.  The address of the Saturday News is first given as 100 Walnut Street in an advertisement in the 2 July, 1836 issue, “The Philadelphia Saturday News and Literary Gazette,” p. [3], col. 7 (MWA). The office of the Saturday News was evidently also that of The Lady’s Book ([Newspaper Exchange], The Philadelphia Saturday News, 1 April, 1837, p. [2], col. 2 [MWAD. The relocation of the Saturday News to 211 Chesnut Street is first noted in an announcement in the 29 July, 1837 issue, “REMOVAL,” p. [2], col. 2 (DLC).

11.  Joseph C. Neal and Morton McMichael, “Salutatory,” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 2 July, 1836, p. [2], col. 1(MWA). Godey may also have had a hand in writing this piece.

12.  See “To Our Patrons,” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 26 November, 1836, p. [4], col. 2 (P); and [Advertisement for the Saturday News], The Philadelphia Saturday News, 10 March, 1838, p. [4], col. 6 (DLC). For additional commentary regarding the newspaper’s circulation, see [Advertisement for the Saturday News], The Philadelphia Saturday News, 7 January, 1837, p. [2], cols. 3-6 (MWA); and [Note to Subscribers], The Philadelphia Saturday News, 11 February, 1837, p. [21, col. 3 (MWA). The former declares “In every state of the Union, and throughout the Canadas, its [the newspaper’s] circulation is wide and constantly increasing . . .”; the latter reports, “Such has been the increase of our city lists that the routes have had to be new modelled, and four additional carriers employed.”

13.  An excerpt from Irving’s Astoria appeared in the Saturday News of 15 October, 1836, p. [2], col. 7 (MWA). (An anonymous and dark re-imagining of Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle,” “Hans Swartz — A Marvelous Tale of Mamakating Hollow,” was published in [page 21:] the Saturday News of 8 September, 1838, p. [4], cols. 3-4 [DLC].) Emerson’s speech on Bonaparte was featured in the 6 October, 1838 issue, p. [4], col. 6, as was Holmes’ poem, “The September Gale,” p. [1], col. 1 (DLC).

14.  With one exception, the Saturday News reviews discussed herein are not readily attributable to only one of the two editors; therefore, these reviews are attributed to both. While Neal and McMichael apparently enjoyed some “assistance” ([Advertisement for the Saturday News], 7 January, 1837), that assistance and its sources are not identified or identifiable; consequently, the double attribution remains.

15.  Rev. of the Southern Literary Messenger (July, 1836), The Philadelphia Saturday News, 23 July, 1836, p. 131, cols. 2-3 (MWA).

16.  For Poe’s review of Fay’s Norman Leslie. A Tale of the Present Times, see H VIII, 51-62; for his review of Drake’s The Culprit Fay, and Other Poems and Halleck’s Alnwick Castle, with Other Poems, see H VIII, 275-318.

17.  Rev. of the Southern Literary Messenger (August, 1836), The Philadelphia Saturday News, 27 August, 1836, p. [2], col. 8 (MWA). (“The City of Sin” had appeared in the August, 1836 Messenger, p. 552.) It is possible that Neal and McMichael had read an earlier version of “The City of Sin,” “The Doomed City,” which appeared in Poe’s 1831 Poems, a book briefly reviewed in the Saturday Evening Post on 21 May, 1831, “presumably by L. A. Wilmer,” states Mabbott (M I, 542).

18.  Rev. of the Southern Literary Messenger (September, 1836), The Philadelphia Saturday News, 8 October, 1836, p. [31, col. 1 (MWA).

19.  Rev. of the Southern Literary Messenger (October, 1836), The Philadelphia Saturday News, 26 November, 1836, p. [5]. col. 4 (P). This issue is the ” double number” (“To Our Patrons,” p. [4], col. 3).

20.  Rev. of The Swiss Heiress, Southern Literary Messenger, October, 1836, pp. 71516. See also H IX, 185-91. For the attribution of The Swiss Heiress to Mrs. Morgan, see “Morgan, Susan Rigby Dallam,” American Authors and Books 1640 to the Present Day, rev. ed. (New York: Crown, 1962).

21.  Rev. of the Southern Literary Messenger (November, 1836), The Philadelphia Saturday News, 24 December, 1836, p. [31, col. 1 (MWA).

22.  For Poe’s comment, see the penultimate note in the Southern Literary Messenger, November, 1836, p. 788. For the attribution of the three reviews in the November, 1836 Messenger to Poe, see William Doyle Hull II, “A Canon of the Critical Works of Edgar Allan Poe With a Study of Poe as Editor and Reviewer,” Diss. University of Virginia, 1941, pp. 166-69.

23.  Thomas W. White, “To the Patrons of The Southern Literary Messenger,” Southern Literary Messenger, January, 1837, p. 96.

24.  Rev. of the Southern Literary Messenger (January, 1837), The Philadelphia Saturday News, 11 February, 1837, p. [31, cols. 4-5 (MWA).

25.  “The ’Southern Literary Messenger’ and ‘The Pickwick Papers,‘” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 7 October, 1837, p. [2], cots. 3-5 (P).

26.  Rev. of the New York Review (January, 1838), The Philadelphia Saturday News, 13 January, 1838, p. [2], col. 3 (P). Since Poe’s review of Stephens’ book was unsigned, it is possible that neither Neal nor McMichael knew it was Poe’s work. [page 22:]

27.  Rev. of The Arethusa, A Novel, by Captain Frederick Chamfer, The Philadelphia Saturday News, 4 November, 1837, p. [31, col. 4 (P).

28.  Rev. of Gentleman Jack; A Naval Story, by William Johnson Neale, The Philadelphia Saturday News, 23 December, 1837, p. 131, cols. 5-6 (P).

29.  Rev. of The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym [by Edgar Allan Poe], The Philadelphia Saturday News, 4 August, 1838, p. 121, col. 3 (P). This review of Pym has not previously been collected. The review’s phrase “casual glance” may have been suggested by Poe’s use of the phrase in Pym (P I, 87, 151). The phrase “wild and wonderful” recalls Sir Walter Scott’s comment on the appropriateness of Samuel Johnson’s phrase “wild adventures” in a definition of romance (Nina Baym, Novels, Readers, and Reviewers — Responses to Fiction in Antebellum America [Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1984], pp. 231-32). Poe employs the phrase “wild adventures” in Pym (P I, 65).

30.  Thomas and Jackson, p. 285. See also I. M. Walker, ed. Edgar Allan Poe — The Critical Heritage (London and New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1986), p. 129. For the Pennsylvanian’s notice of Pym, possibly written by Neal, see Thomas and Jackson, p. 250. See also Burton Pollin, “Pym’s Narrative in the American Newspapers: More Uncollected Notices,” Poe Studies, l l (June, 1978), 9. The phrase “wild and wonderful” is again applied to Poe’s work in Thomas Cottrell Clarke’s Saturday Museum review of Prose Romances (Thomas and Jackson, p. 429). Curiously, Henry T. Tuckerman, whom Poe identified as “an insufferably tedious and dull” writer (H XV, 217), commented in 1863 that the story of Moby-Dick is “wild and wonderful enough without being interwoven with such a thorough, scientific, and economical treatise on the whale . . .” (Moby-Dick or The Whale, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, G. Thomas Tanselle, Volume Six of the Northwestern-Newberry Edition of The Writings of Herman Melville [Evanston and Chicago: Northwestern University Press and The Newberry Library, 19881, p. 730).

31.  [“A brilliant Soiree”], New York Evening Star, 7 September, 1838, p. [2], col. 3 (NHi). The event was held on 4 September, 1838. One New York journalist who probably attended the event and who already knew McMichael was George Pope Morris, editor of the New-York Mirror. He had published a poem titled “Lines to the Whip-Poor-Will” in The Lady’s Book — indeed, the work is identified as “Written for the Lady’s Book” — and beneath the title appear the words “Inscribed to the author’s excellent friend Morton McMichael, Esq.” The piece is dated “New York, June 21, 1838.” (See George P. Morris, “Lines to the Whip-Poor-Will,” The Lady’s Book, XVII [August, 1838], 94; see also “To the Whip-Poor-Will,” New-York Mirror, 4 August, 1838, 44.) Morris published a review of Pym in the New-York Mirror of 11 August, 1838 (55).

32.  The Evening Star reviewed Pym on 10 August, 1838. See Rev. of The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym [by Edgar Allan Poe], New York Evening Star, 10 August, 1838, p. [2], col. 2 (NIE). See also Pollin, “Pym’s Narrative in the American Newspapers,” 10.

33.  That McMichael had returned to Philadelphia by 8 September, 1838 is indicated in an untitled editorial item concerning the recent publication in the Saturday News of an uncharacteristic “warm, political article” — the articles publication had been a compositor’s mistake which had gone unexplained because of editorial “Absence from the city.” See [Concerning a “warm, political article”], The Philadelphia Saturday News, 8 September, 1838, p. [2], col. 3 (DLC). [page 23:]

34.  “The Lady’s Book,” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 15 September, 1838, p. [2], col. 3 (DLC).

35.  Thomas and Jackson, p. 285. See also Walker, p. 129.

36.  For the Pennsylvanian’s comment on the work, see Thomas and Jackson, p. 321.

37.  Killis Campbell, The Mind of Poe and Other Studies (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1933), p. 165n. Campbell mentions a possible source for “Rue Morgue” suggested in the Washington Post of 3 October, 1912, but that unfound, undated, unattributed “source” is termed by Mabbott “an absurd hoax” (M II, 524). Still, Campbell’s initial hypothesis regarding the debt of “Rue Morgue” to newspapers is a valid one.

38.  “An Octogenary, Fifty Years Since,” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 10 March, 1838, p. [11, cols. 7-8; p. [21, cols. 1-2 (DLC); “Bear Story,” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 23 June, 1838, p. [4], col. 1 (NHi).

39.  “Life of an English Nobleman,” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 18 August, 1838, p. [4], cols. 3-4 (DLC). This piece is taken from a somewhat longer essay by the same title, “Life of an English Nobleman,” Boston Daily Evening Transcript, 26 October, 1837, p. [21, cols. 2-3, and 27 October, 1837, p. [21, cols. 1-2 (PSt).

40.  Arthur Hobson Quinn, Edgar Allan Poe. A Critical Biography (New York: Appleton-Century, 1941), pp. 310-11. Other Poe tales besides “Rue Morgue” have repeatedly been related to newspaper stories by a variety of scholars; one particularly relevant example is the sequel to “Rue Morgue,” “The Mystery of Marie Roget” (M III, 723-74), a work written in Philadelphia in 1842 whose debt to newspapers is discussed by William K. Wimsatt, Jr. in “Poe and The Mystery of Mary Rogers,” PMLA, 56 (March, 1941), 230-48, and by John Walsh in Poe the Detective: The Curious Circumstances Behind The Mystery of Marie Roget (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1968).

41.  “Orang Outang,” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 26 May, 1838, p. [4], col. 2 (P).

42.  Thomas and Jackson, p. 265.

43.  The Blackwood’s article, “A Chapter on Goblins,” was suggested by Benjamin Franklin Fisher IV in “Poe, Blackwood’s, and ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue,‘” American Notes and Queries, 12 (March, 1974), 109-11. The Scott novel, Count Robert of Paris, was proposed by John Robert Moore in “Poe, Scott, and ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue,‘” American Literature, 8 (March, 1936), 52-58. The Annual Register was put forth by W. F. Waller in “Poe’s ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue,‘” Notes & Queries, 89 (12 May, 1894)), 366. See also Mabbott’s comments on possible sources for Poe’s orangoutang (M II, 522-24), as well as Charles Clay Doyle, “The Imitating Monkey: A Folklore Motif in Poe,” North Carolina Folklore Journal, 23 (August, 1975), 89-91, and E. Kate Stewart, “An Early Imitative Ape: A Possible Source for ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue,’ ” Poe Studies, 20 (June, 1987), 24.

44.  Gowans’ comment, which first appeared in his Catalogue 27 (1869), is quoted in Roger E. Stoddard, ‘Put a Resolute Hart to a Steep Hill‘. William Gowans, Antiquary and Bookseller (New York: Book Arts Press, 1990). Poe biographer Kenneth Silverman states, “Poe must always have had a lot of newspapers around, I think, including I would say earlier than contemporary ones” (Letter received from Kenneth Silverman, 22 January, 1989). For a related “Marginalia” item, see P II, 201-02. We may readily attribute Poe’s ownership of newspapers to their small cost and great literary usefulness. [page 24:]

45.  “Deliberate Murder in Broadway, at Midday,” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 4 August, 1838, p. [21, col. 4 (P). This piece was drawn from a New York City newspaper or New York City newspapers; related pieces include ‘Jealousy and Murder,” The Times and Commercial Intelligencer, 30 July, 1838, p. [21, col. 3 (NHi); “Atrocious Murder,” New York Morning Herald, 30 July, 1838, p. [2], col. 2 (NHi); and “The Murder in Broadway,” New York Evening Star, 30 July, 1838, p. [21, col. 3 (NHi). While Poe would not have overlooked the Coleman murder piece adjacent to McMichael’s review of Pym in the Saturday News as he read or reread this local newspaper, he might well have missed, or read more cursorily, New York coverage of the story. For an earlier instance of Poe’s reshaping for his fiction a newspaper story published beside a review of his work, see Richard Kopley, “The ‘Very Profound Under-current’ of Arthur Gordon Pym,” Studies in the American Renaissance 1987 (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1987), pp. 143-45.

46.  William Gowans lived with Poe and his family at Sixth Avenue and Waverly Place in 1837; at the time, his bookshop was at the Long Room, 169 Broadway (near Cortlandt) (Mary E. Phillips, Edgar Allan Poe — The Man [Chicago: John C. Winston, 19261, I, 549-61). Hervey Allen writes that “Poe was much in his bookstore browsing among the volumes. . .” (Israfel — The Life and Times of Edgar Allan Poe [New York: George H. Doran Company, 1926], II, 411). The site of the Coleman murder — opposite jollie’s Music Store, 385 Broadway, between White and Walker Streets — was en route from either the Sixth Avenue or Carmine Street residence of Poe to the bookshop (see the “Poe-Plan of New York City,” rear end-paper of the second volume of the Mary E. Phillips biography). A few blocks south of the Long Room was the City Hotel (Broadway between Thames and Cedar Streets) where Poe attended a Booksellers Dinner on 30 March, 1837 (Phillips, I, 557-58; Thomas and Jackson, p. 243). An advertising poster for Jollie’s Music Store circa 1845 probably closely approximates the store’s appearance in 1838 (see Mary Black, American Advertising Posters of the Nineteenth Century [New York: Dover, 1976], pp. 3, 98). Curiously, four blocks south of Jollie’s Music Store was John Anderson’s tobacco shop (321 Broadway, below Anthony), where Mary C. Rogers, the model for Marie Roget, was employed in 1838 (Walsh, 9-14, 82).

47.  Brigham, 105-06.

48.  The source for “Rue Morgue” cited by Arthur Hobson Quinn, “Unpublished Passages in the Life of Vidocq, the French Minister of Police,” (by ‘J. M. B.”), featured related language in its second installment, “Doctor D‘Arsac” (The Gentleman’s Magazine, III, 4 [October, 1838], 24(-48): an old woman is found “with her throat cut so as almost to sever the head from the body” (246). However, the Coleman story’s phrase “nearly severed her head from her body” is identical with Poe’s phrase as the Vidocq story’s phrase “almost to sever the head from the body” is not. For the linking of the passage in question from “Doctor D‘Arsac” with another passage in “Rue Morgue,” see Ian V. K. Ousby, “‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’ and ‘Doctor D‘Arsac’: A Poe Source,” Poe Studies, 5 (December, 1972), 52. Burton Pollin suggests that the impossibility for an ape or a man to sever quickly a human head from its body adds to the importance of the Coleman source (Burton Pollin, telephone conversation, 12 October, 1990). He offers a related comment in “Poe’s ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue’: The Ingenious Web Unravelled,” Studies in the American Renaissance 1977 (Boston: Twayne, 1978), p. 252. [page 25:]

49.  “Examination of Coleman,” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 11 August, 1838, p. [21, col. 7 (P). This piece was taken from “Examination of Edward Coleman, the Murderer,” published in both the semi-weekly newspaper The New York Times and Commercial Intelligencer, for the Country, 31 July, 1838, p. [4], col. 3 (WHi) and the daily newspaper The Times and Commercial Intelligencer (of New York), 1 August, 1838, p. [21, col. 3 (NHi). Doubtless the Saturday News of Philadelphia — so readily available and friendly to Poe — was the newspaper in which he read of Coleman’s examination. Legal documents concerning the Coleman murder have been preserved — the Coroner’s report regarding the body of Ann Coleman (28 July, 1838), the transcripts of eyewitness testimony and of the interrogation of Coleman (31 July, 1838), and the indictment of Coleman (13 August, 1838) are in the Municipal Archives of New York City. According to the Coroner’s report, the murder took place “In Broadway near No 388”; the eyewitness from this address was one Walter T. Smith.

50.  Linda T. Prior, “A Further Word on Richard Wright’s Use of Poe in Native Son,” Poe Studies, 5 (December, 1972), 52-53.

51.  Richard Wright, “How ‘Bigger’ Was Born,” Native Son (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1940), p. xlii.

52.  Wright relied on newspaper accounts, too; significantly, one of the vital newspaper pieces concerning the black murderer Robert Nixon stated, “These killings were accomplished with a ferocity suggestive of Poe’s ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue’ — the work of a giant ape” (qtd. in Kenneth Kinnamon, The Emergence of Richard Wright — A Study in Literature and Society [Urbana, Chicago, London: University of Illinois Press, 19721, p. 123). See also Dan McCall, The Example of Richard Wright (New York: Harcourt, Brace, & World, 1969), p. 70, and Seymour Gross, ‘Native Son and ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’: An Addendum,” Poe Studies, 8 (June, 1975), 23.

53.  Wright, p. li.

54.  [Concerning “Mdlle. Mars” (sic)], The Philadelphia Saturday News, 18 August, 1838, p. [4,1 col. 4 (DLC). Poe’s phrase “the iron chest” — originally “the iron-chest” (Mil, 566n)-is common enough, yet its use as a play title warrants mention. “The Iron Chest” (1796), a play written by George Colman the Younger, was one in which Poe’s mother Eliza Poe had performed in Boston in November, 1806. See Quinn, p. 713, and Geddeth Smith, The Brief Career of Eliza Poe (Rutherford, Madison, Teaneck: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1988), p. 141. The play was based on William Godwin’s novel Caleb Williams. For Poe’s high estimate of Godwin and his writing, see Burton Pollin, “Godwin and Poe” in Discoveries in Poe (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1970), pp. 107-27; 263-68. Pollin mentions Godwin in the context of “Rue Morgue” in “Poe’s ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue’: The Ingenious Web Unravelled,” p. 241. Perhaps “the iron box containing her jewelry” in the Saturday News piece on Mademoiselle Mars recalled to Poe the play, or the novel, or both, for the play featured a trunk of jewels supposedly from the iron chest, and the novel featured a box of jewels supposedly from a locked trunk. See George Colman the Younger, “The Iron Chest: A Play; in Three Acts” in The Plays of George Colman the Younger, ed. Peter A. Tasch (New York and London: Garland, 1981), pp. 115-19; and William Godwin, Caleb Williams, ed. David McCracken (London: Oxford University Press, 1970), p. 167. Perhaps, too, the repeated name Coleman in the Saturday News reinforced for Poe the George Colman connection. Interestingly, even as “Rue Morgue” reveals that the chest contained papers, Colman’s play revealed that the trunk contained a paper — a confession [page 26:] of murder (pp. 122-23) — and Godwin’s novel speculated that the trunk contained such a document (p. 315).

55.  “Horrid Murders,” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 15 September, 1838, p. [31, col. 2 (DLC).

56.  “A Mischievous Ape,” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 22 September, 1838, p. [21, col. 6 (NHD. This piece was probably drawn from the New York Evening Star, 17 September, 1838, p. [2], col. 2 (NHi) or the New York Morning Herald, 18 September, 1838, p. [21, col. 2 (NHi); it was reprinted in as distant a newspaper as the Nantucket Inquirer, 26 September, 1838, p. [21, col. I (Nantucket Atheneum). Clearly, the newspaper in which Poe would most probably have encountered the piece was the Saturday News.

57.  It is not certain that Poe’s ape had bitten the young woman’s tongue; Joseph J. Moldenhauer suggests “. . . the context allows for the interpretation that she [Mademoiselle L‘Espanaye] had (in her agony) bitten her own tongue” (Letter received from Joseph J. Moldenhauer, 29 September, 1988). In either reading, the parallels between news item and tale remain strong.

58.  “To Thomas W. White,” [30 April, 1835], Letter 42, The Letters of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. John Ward Ostrom (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1948), I, 58.

59.  Thomas and Jackson, p. 321.

60.  “Education at the Morgue” and “M. Perrin, of the Morgue” (from The American in Paris, by John Sanderson), The Philadelphia Saturday News, 6 October, 1838, p. [41, col. 3 (DLC); [“The New Caspar Hauser”], The Philadelphia Saturday News, 6 October, 1838, p. [41, col. 1 (DLC); “A Scene of Horror and Murder,” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 20 October, 1838, p. [31, col. 1 (NHi), and “Baltimore County Court,” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 24 November, 1838, p. [31, col. 2 (NHi); and “Conviction for Murder,” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 24 November, 1838, p. [21, col. 3 (NHi). A difference in the spelling of the French newspaper’s name should be noted: while the Saturday News credits “The New Caspar Hauser” to the “Gazette des Tribuneaux,” Poe refers to the “Gazette des Tribunaux’ (M II, 537). In the 1845 Tales, the latter spelling of this name replaced “Le Tribunal” (M II, 537n). Poe might have remembered the name from the Saturday News, reread the item in a file of the newspaper, or encountered the name again in another publication. It might be added that a piece anticipating Poe’s “A Descent into the Maelström” appeared in the 6 October, 1838, Saturday News next to the morgue pieces: “The Maelstrom Whirlpool,” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 6 October, 1838, p. [41, col. 4 (NHi).

61.  [Concerning the sentencing of Edward Coleman], The Philadelphia Saturday News, 1 December, 1838, p. [21, col. 6 (NHi).

62.  Rev. of the Southern Literary Messenger (December, 1838) and “Deaths in New York,” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 1 December, 1838, p. [21, col. 5 (NHi). For accounts related to “Deaths in New York,” see “The Danger of Carbonic Acid Gas,” New York Morning Herald, 27 November, 1838, p. 121, col. 4 (NHi) and “Deaths from Charcoal,” New York Evening Star, 27 November, 1838, p. [21, col. 1 (NHi).

63.  The verdict of the Coroner’s Jury of “Death from suffocation” for both women is documented in two Coroner’s reports of 26 November, 1838 held by the Municipal Archives of New York City. Witnesses’ accounts of the discovery of the fire and its victims accompany these reports. (NHi). [page 27:]

64.  A Story,” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 1 December, 1838, p. [41, cols. 3-4 (NHi).

65.  Rpt. of [Concerning the sentencing of Edward Coleman], The Philadelphia Saturday News, 8 December, 1838, p. [41, col. 3 (DLC).

66.  “Escape of the Bear from the Liverpool Zoological Garden,” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 8 December, 1838, p. [4], col. 2 (DLC).

67.  “Mahometan Worship,” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 8 December, 1838, p. [41, col. 2 (DLC). The essay from which this piece is drawn is “Algiers in the Spring of 1837,” The New Monthly Magazine and Humorist (ed. Theodore Hook), October, 1838, pp. 166-77. For the section excerpted in the Saturday News, see pp. 167-68.

68.  I paraphrase Poe in “To Thomas W. White,” [30 April, 1835], Letter 42, The Letters of Edgar Allan Poe.

69.  “Apparent Death,” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 22 December, 1838, p. [2], col. 1(DLC. This piece is credited to the Liverpool Mercury.

70.  “Appalling Accident,” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 22 December, 1838, p. [2], col. 7 (DLC). This piece is credited to “The Times,” presumably The Times and Commercial Intelligencer of New York.

71.  “Humorous Adventure-Picking Up a Madman,” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 29 December, 1838, p. 14], col. 2 (NHi). This piece is credited to the Boston Morning Herald; I have not yet found the issue of this newspaper in which “Humorous Adventure” appeared.

72.  The “insane Hospital” may have been the McLean Asylum for the Insane in Charlestown.

73.  Thomas and Jackson, pp. 248, 255. See also the “Poe-Plan of Philadelphia,” front end-paper of the second volume of the Mary E. Phillips biography.

74.  See Johannes Dietrich Bergmann, “The Original Confidence Man,” American Quarterly, 21 (1969), 560-77; and “‘Bartleby’ and The Lawyer’s Story,” American Literature, 47 (1975), 432-36. See also Robert Sattelmeyer and James Barbour, “The Sources and Genesis of Melville’s ‘Norfolk Isle and the Chola Widow,‘” American Literature, 50 (1978), 398-417. Merton M. Sealts, Jr. comments on Melville’s debt to newspapers in Melville’s Reading (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1988), pp. 88, 99. Twain scholars may be interested to know that the Saturday News published a story on the wreck of the ship Walter Scott (“The Walter Scott,” 17 November, 1838, p. [21, col. 7 [NHi]). Perhaps Missouri newspapers also ran this story, and young Samuel Clemens then heard about the wreck or, in subsequent years, read about it. This story may well have contributed to Twain’s conceiving Chapters XII and XIII of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), which concern the wreck of a ship named Walter Scott.

75.  The symmetry of language in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” is revealed in an unpublished essay by Maureen Bollier, “Symmetry of Language and Structure in ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue.‘” Ms. Bollier wrote this paper in the Fall of 1987 in English 103 (Great Books of American Literature) at the Penn State, DuBois Campus.

76.  “To the Subscribers to the Saturday News,” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 29 December, 1838, p. [21, col. 3 (NHi). [page 28:]

77.  “To the Subscribers to the ’Saturday News,‘” The Philadelphia Saturday News, 5 January, 1839, p. [31, col. 1 (NHi).

78.  “Last of the Murderer, Coleman,” New York Morning Herald, 14 January, 1839, p. [21, col. 2 (NHi); “Execution of Coleman,” New York Evening Star, 14 January, 1839, p. [21, col. 3 (NHi).

79.  Thomas and Jackson, pp. 262-63.

80.  Thomas and Jackson, pp. 267-68, 279-80.

81.  Dwight Thomas, “Poe in Philadelphia, 1838-1844: A Documentary Record,” Diss. University of Pennsylvania, 1978, 1, 33-34.

82.  Lambert A. Wilmer, Our Press Gang; or, A Complete Exposition of the Corruptions and Crimes of the American Newspapers (Philadelphia: J. T. Lloyd, 1859), p 40; Thomas Ollive Mabbott, ed., Merlin, by Lambert A. Wilmer (1941; rpt. Darby, Pennsylvania: Folcroft Library Editions, 1973), p. x.

83.  Thomas and Jackson, p. 285.

84.  W. T. Bandy, “Who Was Monsieur Dupin?” PMLA, 79 (1964), 509-10. Arthur Hobson Quinn’s claim for Madame Dupin in “Unpublished Passages, in the Life of Vidocq” and Bandy’s claim for C. Auguste Dubouchet and S. Maupin need not be considered mutually exclusive. It should be added that Bandy acknowledges two other possible sources for the name of Poe’s detective; one of these is offered by Killis Campbell (The Mind of Poe, p. 174n), and the other by T. O. Mabbott (The Selected Poetry and Prose of Edgar Allan Poe [New York: Modern Library, 19531, p. 420). For an extended consideration of the Mabbott source, see Buford Jones and Kent Ljungquist, “Monsieur Dupin: Further Details on the Reality Behind the Legend,” Southern Literary Journal, 9 (1976), 70-77.

85.  “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” Graham’s Magazine, April, 1841, 166-79. The manuscript of Poe’s tale is in the Richard Gimbel Collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia.



This lecture was delivered at the Sixty-sixth Annual Commemoration Program of the Poe Society, October 2, 1988.

© 1988 and 2012, by The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore, Inc.


[S:0 - EAPPSN, 1991] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Lectures - Edgar Allan Poe and the Philadelphia Saturday News (R. Kopley, 1991)