The Southern Literary Messenger (Richmond, VA)



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The Southern Literary Messenger was the most important periodical published in the South and, in spite of occasional troubles, one of the most successful. It was for this magazine that Poe first launched what was to be a lifelong career as an editor and magazinist.

 


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The Southern Literary Messenger (Richmond, VA)


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Description:

The prospectus for The Southern Literary Messenger was published as early as May of 1834, when it appeared in The Daily National Intelligencer (Washington, D.C.), XXII, No. 6637, Thursday, May 15, 1834, p. 3, col. 6. The Prospectus is dated “May 1, 1834” (Quoted in Jackson, Contributors and Contributions to the SLM, 1936, pp. xi-xii).

Full Title: The Southern Literary Messenger: Devoted to Every Department of Literature and the Fine Arts (1834-1845); The Southern and Western Literary Messenger and Review: Devoted to Every Department of Literature and the Fine Arts (1846-1847); The Southern Literary Messenger: Devoted to Every Department of Literature and the Fine Arts (1848-1864); The Southern Literary Messenger: Devoted to Literature, Science and Art (1856-1864)

Issued: The Southern Literary Messenger: Vols. I-XXXVI (August 1834 - June 1864) Several intermitent issues were not published: September, October and November 1834; December 1836; February, August and October 1840, with March, September and November being double issues; August 1841. A few issues cross months: May-June 1841; October-November 1851; and November-December 1863.

Editor(s): James Ewell Heath  (August 1834 - April 1835); Edward Vernon Sparhawk  (May 1835 - July 1835); Thomas Willis White (August 1834 - December 1842); Edgar Allan Poe (December 1835 - January 1837) (White dismissed Poe as editor about December 3, 1836, but he officially retired with the January issue. White remained generally friendly towards Poe, and Poe remained a contributor until his own death in 1849); Thomas Willis White (February 1839 - about January 1840); Thomas Willis White and Matthew Fontaine Maury (about January 1840 - September 1842); Matthew Fontaine Maury (October 1842 - July 1843)  (with assistance from White’s son-in-law, Peter Dudley Bernard) (White died on January 23, 1843); Benjamin Blake Minor  (August 1843 - October 1847); John Ruben Thompson (November 1847 - May 1860); George William Bagby  (June 1860 - January 1864); Frank Heath Alfriend  (February 1864 - June 1864);

Publisher(s): Thomas Willis White (1834-1843) (White died in 1843); Benjamin Blake Minor (1843-1847); Macfarlane & Fergusson (1847); John Reuben Thompson (1847-1852); Macfarlane & Fergusson (1853-1863); Wedderburn & Alfriend  (1864)

Location: Richmond, VA

 


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Issued in illustrated paper wrappers, generally a blue-green color. Most surviving copies were accumulated into full volumes, and rebound in cloth or leather.

 


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There are many copies of the Southern Literary Messenger, although the early volumes are somewhat scarce, and Poe-related issues in the original paper wrappers are quite rare. A few copies are worthy of particular note:

  • The “Duane” set of volumes I and II, with seven of the tales in volume I bearing faint pencilled corrections by Poe. This set belonged to the collector and writer William Duane, Jr (1808-1882), a desendant of Benjamin Franklin who lived in Philadelphia and contributed to the Southern Literary Messenger during Poe’s tenure. The relevant tales are: “Berenice,” “The Visionary,” “Bon-Bon,” “Loss of Breath,” “King Pest,” “Shadow,” “Metzengerstein” and “Hans Phaal.” The variants from these unique volumes of the first six of these tales are recorded by T. O. Mabbott in his landmark edition of Poe’s Tales and Sketches, 1978 (2 vols) and, for “Hans Phall,” by Burton R. Pollin in The Imaginary Voyages, 1981. (George E. Woodberry notes, “The Leaves of ‘Hans Phaal’ were torn out and passed through the hands of at least three printers and have their ‘take’ marks; they were then skillfully replaced” (Woodberry, 1909, II, p. 368).)  Mabbott presumes that Poe’s changes were “made in 1839 to provide printer’s copy for Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1840), since all the changes indicated were adopted in that edition” (Mabbott, T&S, p. 1404).  Two pencilled corrections in volume II, of which one may be by Poe, are recorded by Bandy (1982), pp. 86-87. (A correction of one word in “Maelzel’s Chess Player” is probably by Duane, while a printed note about a poem in the October 1836 issue, “To My Wife” by Lindley Murray, is perhaps by Poe.) About March of 1844, volume I seems to have been borrowed for Poe by his friend Henry B. Hirst, so that Poe could see a particular article (Exactly which article is not known.) Unfortunately, instead of returning the volume, as she had been instructed, Maria Clemm sold it (while Poe was out of town, about April 1844) with a lot of Poe’s own books to William A. Leary (of 158 North Second Street), a dealer in Philadelphia. (Bandy says “Lewis A. Leary,” apparently in error.) Poe, unaware of Mrs. Clemm’s mistake, defended her in a rather harsh letter to Duane, “To the person [Henry B. Hirst] of whom I borrowed the book, or rather who insisted on forcing it on me, I have sufficient reason to believe that it was returned. Settle your difficulties with him, and insult me with no more of your communications” (Poe to Duane, January 28, 1845). Duane eventually managed to purchase his volume back through friends at the Messenger, who acquired it from a dealer in Richmond, with his own name still on the title-page. Poe was greatly embarrassed by the whole matter, remarking to Hirst, “what must Mr. Duane think of me” (Woodberry, 1909, II, p. 368). Thirty years later, Duane, writing under the anagramatic pseudonym of “Uneda,” still considered Poe, “a most unprincipled man.” Formerly in the H. Bradley Martin Collection, the set was sold at auction on January 30, 1990 as item 2194, with an estimate of “7,000/10,000.” Provenance: William Duane, Jr.; James H. Whitty; H. Bradley Martin; current owner is a private collector in Manhattan, NY. (The Pierpont Morgan Library in NY supposedly has photocopies of the pages with corrections).
  • James H. Whitty claimed to have “copies of the Southern Literary Messenger from the Hawks library with the address in Poe’s autograph” (Whitty, 1911, p. xl note 2), with “Hawks” being Dr. Francis Lister Hawks (1798-1866), one of the editors of The New York Review. (Poe contributed one review to that New York quarterly.) These are presumably the same copies which were purchased from Whitty by the J. K. Lilly Library. The catalogue of the Lilly Library notes, “Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 of Volume I are addressed on the front wrappers, in Poe’s hand: ‘Edward T. Tayloe, King George Court-House, Va.’ “ and further stating, “No other issues, inscribed by Poe, seem to be recorded. From the Whitty collection” (Randall, 1960, p. 55)
  • A private collector owns a set of volumes I-III, where vol. I has a receipt, in Poe’s hand, for contributions to the Messenger.
  • In preparing for the publication of The Raven and Other Poems in 1845, Poe seems to have borrowed a copy of volume II of the Messenger from Rufus W. Griswold. Poe wrote a quick note to Griswold on September 28, 1845: “Please do not forget to send the S. L. Messenger — Vol 2. I will take especial care of it.” Poe had already written to E. A. Duyckinck on September 10, 1845, “I can hand you some ‘Dramatic Scenes’ from the S. L. Messenger (2nd Vol) . . .” The “Dramatic Scenes” would have been “Scenes from an Unpublished Drama” from the extracts of Poe’s play “Politian” printed in the December 1835 and January 1836 issues, both in volume 2. Mabbott states that Poe made corrections in the volume “for printer’s copy” (Mabbott, Poems, p. 578). The exact nature of Poe’s revisions in this volume are unknown, although they are presumably preserved in the printed form of The Raven and Other Poems. Also unknown is whether or not it has survived and, if so, its current location. In 1942, Mabbott felt that, “Poe’s promise of care suggests that any pencil alterations would have been erased before the periodical was returned . . . The original manuscript of Politian was certainly not used as copy for the volume of 1845, but rather a slightly corrected Messenger. This is clear from the variants recorded in my edition of Politian, 1923, pp. 46-50” (Mabbott, “Introduction,” The Raven and Other Poems, facsimile of 1942, p. vii, n. 6). Since the changes are minor, it is possible that Poe used Griswold’s copy of the Messenger only as a source of the initial setting of text and made corrections directly to proof pages.
  • Note: In their 1943 bibliography of Poe’s writings, Heartman and Canny include a warning about copies of the Southern Literary Messenger in paper wrappers with Poe’s autograph, documenting these as coming from a large collection of forgeries (p. ix).

 


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  • Bandy, William T., “Poe, Duane and Duffee,” The University of Mississippi Studies in English, new series III, 1982, pp. 81-95. (Bandy documents the unfortunate issue between Poe and W. J. Duane concerning the volumes of the Southern Literary Messenger. In the process, Bandy corrects several errors made by other biographers.)
  • Heartman, Charles F. and James R. Canny, A Bibliography of First Printings of the Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, Hattiesburg, Mississippi: The Book Farm, 1943, pp. 249-262 (and p. ix).
  • Hull, William Doyle, A Canon of the Critical Works of Edgar Allan Poe, With a Study of Poe as Editor and Reviewer, unpublished doctoral dissertation, The University of Virginia, 1941.
  • Jackson, David K., “Poe Notes: ‘Pinakidia’ and ‘Some Ancient Greek Authors’,” American Literature, V, November 1933, pp. 258-267. (Also, “ ‘Some Ancient Greek Authors’: A Work of Edgar A. Poe,” Notes and Queries, CLXVI, May 26, 1934, p. 368.)
  • Jackson, David K., Poe and the Southern Literary Messenger, Richmond, Virginia: Press of the Dietz Printing Co., 1934.  (with a Forward by James H. Whitty.)
  • Jackson, David K. (compiler), The Contributors and Contributions to The Southern Literary Messenger (1834-1864), Charlottesville, Virginia: The Historical Publishing Co. Inc, 1936.  (printed for libraries.)
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, ed., The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vols. II - III: Tales & Sketches, Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1978. (Records the variants marked in the Duane copy for the following tales: “Berenice,” “The Visionary,” “Bon-Bon,” “Loss of Breath,” “King Pest,” “Shadow” and “Metzengerstein.”)
  • Minor, Benjamin Blake, The Southern Literary Messenger, 1834-1864, New York and Washington, 1905.
  • Mott, Frank Luther, “The Southern Literary Messenger,” A History of American Magazines, pp. 629-657.
  • Phillips, Mary E., Edgar Allan Poe the Man, Chicago: John C. Winston Co., 2 vols, 1926, (numerous references).
  • Pollin, Burton R, ed., The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe: Volume I: The Imaginary Voyages, Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1981. (Reprinted by Gordian Press.)  (Records the variants marked in the Duane copy for the tale “Hans Phaal.”)
  • Pollin, Burton R, ed., The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe: Volume II: The Brevities, New York: Gordian Press, 1985. (Records the full texts of “Pinakidia,” “Supplementary Pinikidia,” “Marginalia” (of which several installments appeared in the SLM) and “Supplementary Marginalia.”)
  • Pollin, Burton R and Joseph V. Ridgely, The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe: Volume 5: Writings in The Southern Literary Messenger, Nonfictional Prose, New York: The Gordian Press, 1997.  (The texts for this edition are reproduced photographically from the original issues. The layout and arrangements of columns, however, has been adjusted to appropriately fit the pages of the book. A few minor errors are worth noting: Page 115 - the notice of “Rose Hill” from page 114 should end with the fourth line on page 115: “We wish the book, however, every success.” The remaining text, up to the review of “Emilia Harrington” belongs to a notice by Lucian Minor on John Marshall, and should be omitted. Page 386 - in the entry for “May 1845 - 2,” on the sixth line, there is a reference to “the Broadway Journal of March 19,” which should read “April 19.”)
  • Quinn, Arthur H., Edgar Allan Poe, A Critical Biography, 1941 (numerous references).
  • Randall, David A., “The J. K. Lilly Library Collection of Edgar Allan Poe,” The Indian University Bookman, No. 4, March 1960, pp. 46-58. (Notes copies of the SLM in paper wrappers, of which several are said to be addressed in Poe’s hand. These may be the same as those warned about as forgeries by Heartman and Canny.)

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[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Southern Literary Messenger