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James Aldrich

(Born: July 14, 1810 - Died: September 9, 1856)

Merchant, editor and a very minor writer and poet. Aldrich was born in Mattituck, NY. (Griswold gives his date of birth as July 10.) He married Matilda Lyon of Newport, RI in 1836. He briefly established the New York Literary Gazette, for which the first issue appeared on February 2, 1839, and ceased a mere six months later on July 13. ( A nearly complete run of this journal is in the New York Public Library. Reece gives the title as the Literary Gazette and Journal of Belles-Lettres, and the initial date as September 1834, both apparently in error.) Under Park Benjamin, Aldrich was an assistant editor of the New World (New York) beginning in 1842, and after some travel abroad, again in 1843, leaving that position in March 1844. He died in New York City. Duyckinck notes that no collection of Mr. Aldrich's poetry was published during his lifetime, but apparently his daughter, Mrs. Ely, did print a volume distributed to family and friends in 1884. His best known poem is almost certainly "A Death Bed," first published in the New World (May 29, 1841) and often reprinted.

In an article called "Plagiarism" (Evening Mirror, February 17, 1845), Poe claims to identify a plagiarism by Aldrich from Thomas Hood's poem "The Death Bed." He repeats the charge, accusing Aldrich of having "a penchant for imitation," in "Marginalia" (Democratic Review, April 1846). Mabbott notes that Aldrich was "much given to imitation of Shelley and Tennyson."

Criticism (Texts and Variant Texts)
  • Notice from "The Literati"
    • "James Aldrich" ("The Literati of New York City" - No. III) — July 1846 — Godey's Lady's Book
    • "James Aldrich" ("The Literati") — 1850 — WORKS

  • Duyckinck, E. A. and G. L., eds., Cyclopedia of American Literature, 1855, 2:499 (this brief mention of Mr. Aldrich, and a full quotation of his poem "A Death-Bed," appears in an article about Park Benjamin)
  • Griswold, Rufus Wilmot, "James Aldrich," The Poets and Poetry of America, Philadelphia: Carey & Hart, 1842, p. 383 (a very brief entry, followed by a few of his poems)
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, manuscript notes for a planned edition of "The Literati," special collections, University of Iowa.
  • Reece, James B., Poe and the New York Literati: A Study of the "Literati" Sketches and of Poe's Relations with the NewYork Writers, unpublished doctoral dissertation, Duke University, 1954, pp. 300-303.
  • Warner, Charles Dudley, ed., "Biographical Dictionary of Authors," Library of the World's Best Literature, New York: The International Society, 1896, 42:11 (a brief entry)
  • Wilson, James Grant and John Fiske, eds., Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1889, 1:43.

[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Info - James Aldrich