Tales, by Edgar A. Poe (1845)


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This volume was first published in 1845. Based on the earliest known advertisements, the probable date of issue is June 25, 1845. (It is advertised in the New York Daily Tribune for June 20 as “TALES BY EDGAR A. POE: Will appear on WEDNESDAY NEXT.” A fuller advertisement appears in the Daily Tribune for June 26, clearly indicating that it is actually available, as projected.) The number of copies printed is uncertain, although it must be at least 1,500. (On November 13, 1845, Poe wrote to E. A. Duyckinck that, apparently from a report by the publisher, “1500 of the Tales have been sold.” When Poe is bragging about circulation numbers to friends, his information is generally not reliable, but here he is negotiating money with someone who can easily verify the numbers with the publisher, and is thus probably accurate.) Wiley and Putnam also published Poe’s The Raven and Other Poems, 1845. The volume of Tales was re-issued in 1849, with a new title page. According to T. O. Mabbott, this re-issue was made to clear out the remainder of the book.

Tales, by Edgar A. Poe (1845)

The tales included in this volume were selected by Evert A. Duyckinck, and Poe was not particularly pleased with all of the choices. Poe wrote, in 1846, to Philip Pendleton Cooke, “The last selection of my Tales was made from about 70, by Wiley & Putnam’s reader, Duyckinck. He has what he thinks a taste for ratiocination, and has accordingly made up the book mostly of analytic stories. But this is not representing my mind in it various phases — it is not giving me fair play. In writing these Tales one by one, at long intervals, I have kept the book-unity always in mind — that is, each has been composed with reference to its effect as part of a whole . In this view, one of my chief aims has been the widest diversity of subject, thought, & especially tone & manner of handling. Were all my tales now before me in a large volume and as the composition of another — the merit which would principally arrest my attention would be the wide diversity and variety” (Poe to P. P. Cooke, August 1846). Earlier in 1846, Poe had already written to Duyckinck: “For ‘particular reasons ’ I am anxious to have another volume of my Tales published before the 1st of March. Do you not think it possible to accomplish it for me? Would not Mr. Wiley give me, say $50, in full for the copyright of the collection I now send. it is a far better one than the first — containing, for instance, ‘Ligeia,” which is undoubtedly the best story I have written — besides ’sheherazade ’, ‘The Spectacles ’, ‘Tarr and Fether, ’ etc.” (Poe to Duyckinck, January 8, 1846).

An advertisement for Wiley & Putnam’s “Library of American Books,” printed in Poe’s own Broadway Journal , includes an announcement for “POE’s TALES. [[/]] TALES. By Edgar A. Poe. 50 Cents. [[/]] This excellent collection will include the most characteristic of the peculiar series of Tales written by Mr. Poe. Among others, will be found ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue, ’ ’ The Purloined Letter, ’ ‘Marie Roget, ’ ‘The House of Usher, ’ ‘William Wilson, ’ ‘The Gold Bug, ’ ‘The Descent into the Maelstrom, ’ ‘The Premature Burial, ’ ‘Mesmeric Revelations, ’ &c. &c.”  (Broadway Journal , July 19, 1845, p. 31, col. 1).


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Bibliographic Data:

8vo. (7 1/2 in x 5 in). Pages [i-viii], [1]-228, plus advertisments. Bindings: Tan paper wrappers, with printed text.


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Census of Copies:

There are many surviving copies, although copies in the original paper covers are rare. It would be impractical to attempt a complete census of copies, but here are some significant ones. There are at least four known presentation copies of the 1845 edition, one of the single volume and two of the double volume:

  • Poe to John Bisco, “Mr[[.]] John Bisco — with the sincere regards of E[[.]] A. Poe” (written on the top edge of the cover, in pen. The page is reproduced by T. O. Mabbott, T&S, 1978, facing p. 475. This copy of Tales is now in the Berg Collection, NYPL)
  • Poe to Elizabeth Barrett Barrett, “To Miss Elizabeth Barrett Barrett, With the Respects of Edgar A. Poe” (April 1846)
  • Poe to Sarah Helen Whitman, “To Mrs. Sarah Helen Whitman — from the most devoted of her friends. Edgar A. Poe.” (Sarah H. Whitman inscribed this copy many years later to a friend, Caleb Fiske Harris: “Sarah Helen Whitman To C. Fiske Harris. Oct 21, 1874.”) Poe’s personal copy contains a number of manuscript alterations. This copy, generally known as the J. Lorimer Graham copy, was used by R. W. Griswold in preparing his edition of The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe (1850). On the fly-leaf is Griswold’s signature, with the note “Poe’s Private copy.” Elsewhere, it also bears the name of George P. Philes, a New York dealer who appears to have sold the book to J. L. Graham sometime between 1857 and 1876.
  • Poe to Mary Gove, later Mary Gove Nichols, “To Mrs. Mary Gove [Nichols] from her most sincere friend The Author” (apparently at one time part of the collection of John H. Ingram, and now in the J. K. Lilly Library). (5) Poe to Duychinck (noted in Heartman and Canny, p. 96).
  • H. Bradley Martin (bound with Tales, 1845) sold at auction in 1990 for $71,500.
  • Poe apparently send a copy to Miss Anne Charlotte Lynch. On June 27, 1845, she wrote to Poe: “I shall take the Tales with me & read them in the country. Many thanks for them.”
  • In a copy of the 1849 Tales (now in the New York Public Library) is the following note by T. O. Mabbott: “This is a re-issue, with cancel title, of Poe’s 1845 Tales (The ‘Duyckinck Selection ’). It is made up of the sheets of that edition, but the binding is new, and the title-page specially printed — to get rid of remaining copies — I believe. It is important because the re-issue was almost surely during Poe’s lifetime. I have heard of two other copies besides this. The two pencil notes on the fly-leaf, the date ‘Dec. 7, 1848 ’ and ‘4/ ’ were there when I bought the book. I believe the first record of the date of issue or more probably when someone bought this copy. If so, the title-date is for 1848-49 holiday season, as one would expect. The price may indicate sale in England, but the New York shilling of 12 1/2c was much used in this city.” The 1849 title page gives “New York: John Wiley, 161 Broadway, and 13 Paternoster Row, London. 1849.”

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Bibliography:

  • Blanck, Jacob, “Edgar Allan Poe,” Bibliography of American Literature; volume 7: James Kirke Paulding to Frank Richard Stockton, New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1983, p. 119-120. (Volume 7 is edited and completed by Virginia L. Smyers and Michael Winship.) (This book is item 16146.)
  • Heartman, Charles F and James R. Canny, A Bibliography of First Printings of the Writings of Edgar Allan Poe , Hattiesburg, Mississippi, 1943, pp. 90-97. (Reprinted, Millwood, New York: Kraus Reprint Co., 1977.)
  • Quoth the Raven: Selections from the Susan Jaffe Tane Edgar Allan Poe Collection , 1997, pp. 52-53.
  • Southeby Auction Catalogue, The Library of H. Bradley Martin: Highly Important American and Children’s Literature, New York, January 30 and 31, 1990.
  • Todd, William B., “The Early Issues of Poe’s Tales (1845),” Library Chronicle of the University of Texas , Fall 1961, 7:13-18.

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[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Editions - Tales (1845)