Edgar Allan Poe — “The Purloined Letter”





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Date - Under development.


Under development.


Reading and Reference Texts:

Reading copy:

  • “The Purloined Letter” — reading copy


Historical Texts:

Manuscripts and Authorized Printings:

  • Text-01 — “The Purloined Letter” — early 1844, no original manuscript or fragments are known to exist (but this version is presumably recorded in Text-02) (In a letter to to E. L. Carey of May 31, 1844, Poe describes the manuscript he had sent for printing as having “many interlineations and erasures,” and as a consequence he requested the ability to review the page proofs.) (What J. H. Whitty mentions as a manuscript of the story is actually just a handwritten copy by Poe of the introductory note from the abridged version printed in Chamber’s Edinburgh Journal. He is incorrect in assuming that it was a full manuscript of the story, or that it established Poe as the author of the abridgement.)
  • Text-02 — “The Purloined Letter” — 1844 — The Gift for 1845 (probably available by October 1844) — (Mabbott text A)
  • Text-03 — “The Purloined Letter” — 1844-1845 — (a presumed revised version of text-02, in anticipation of the new edition in Tales. This version was probably made on pages of a copy of The Gift. No such modified copy has survived, but the revisions are presumably reflected in text-04.)
  • Text-04 — “The Purloined Letter” — 1845 — TALES — (Mabbott text B) (For Griswold’s 1850 reprinting of this text, see the entry below, under reprints.)
  • Text-05 — “The Purloined Letter” — 1849 — TALES-JLG — manuscript revisions in “J. L. Graham” copy of TALES — (Mabbott text C)  (This is Mabbott’s copy-text)

[[Note: Because the version that first appeared in Chamber’s Edinburgh Journal in 1844 was not done by Poe, all printings of that abridgement are given under Miscellaneous Texts and Related Items, below.]]



  • The Purloined Letter” — 1850 — WORKS — (Griswold reprints Text-03) (Mabbott text D)
  • “The Purloined Letter” — May 8, 1856 — Evening Star (Washington, DC) p. 1 — (probably reprinted from Griswold edition) (The story was printed in two parts, the second part has not been identified. Poe’s name is not noted.)
  • “The Purloined Letter” — 1867 — Prose Tales of Edgar Allan Poe, first series (New York: W. J. Widdleton), pp. 262-280 (This collection is extracted from the 1850-1856 edition of Poe’s Works. It was reprinted several times.)
  • “The Purloined Letter” — 1874 — Works of Edgar A. Poe, edited by J. H. Ingram, vol. 1, pp. 494-513 (This collection was subsequently reprinted in various forms)
  • “The Purloined Letter!” — March 9, 1893 — Roanoke Times (Roanoke, VA), vol. 11, no. 146, p. 6, cols. 1-6 (credited as by Edgar Allan Poe) (with two original woodcut illustrations)
  • “The Purloined Letter” — April 1893 — Cortland Evening Standard (Cortland, NY) (credited as by Edgar Allan Poe)
    • “The Purloined Letter” — part I — April 21, 1893 (Friday) — Cortland Evening Standard (Cortland, NY) no. 347, p. 3, cols. 2-4 (with two original woodcut illustrations)
    • “The Purloined Letter” — part II — April 22, 1893 (Saturday) — Cortland Evening Standard (Cortland, NY) no. 348, p. 6, cols. 2-4 (with one original woodcut illustration)
    • “The Purloined Letter” — part III — April 24, 1893 (Monday) — Cortland Evening Standard (Cortland, NY) no. 349, p. 6, cols. 2-4 (with two original woodcut illustrations)
  • “The Purloined Letter” — February 1950 — Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine  (New York, NY) (vol 15, no 24. pp. 65-80)  (This is a pulp magazine, bearing the subtitle: “An Anthology of the Best Detective Stories, New and Old.”)


Scholarly and Noteworthy Reprints:

  • “The Purloined Letter” — 1894-1895 — The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 3: Tales, eds. E. C. Stedman and G. E. Woodberry, Chicago: Stone and Kimball (3:166-190)
  • The Purloined Letter” — 1902 — The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 6: Tales V, ed. J. A. Harrison, New York: T. Y. Crowell (6:28-52, and 6:277-278)
  • The Purloined Letter” — 1978 — The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 3: Tales & Sketches II, ed. T. O. Mabbott, Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (3:972-997)
  • “The Purloined Letter” — 1984 — Edgar Allan Poe: Poetry and Tales, ed. Patrick F. Quinn (New York: Library of America), pp. 680-698


Comparative and Study Texts:

Instream Comparative and Study Texts:


Associated Material and Special Versions:

Miscellaneous Texts and Related Items:

  • The Purloined Letter” — November 30, 1844 — Chamber’s Edinburgh Journal  (This is the first appearance of the abridged version.)
  • “The Purloined Letter” — December 28, 1844 — Hereford Times and General Advertiser (Hereford, UK), vol. XIII, whole no. 650, p. 206, cols. 1-2  (reprinted from Chamber’s Edinburgh Journal, but omitting the introductory note and thus not mentioning Poe as the author.)
  • “The Purloined Letter” — January 18, 1845 — Littel’s Living Age (Reprinted abridged version from Chamber’s Edinburgh Journal)
  • “The Purloined Letter” — January 20-22, 1845 — Spirit of the Times (Reprinted abridged version from Chamber’s Edinburgh Journal )
    • “The Purloined Letter” — Part I — January 20, 1845
    • “The Purloined Letter” — Part II — January 22, 1845
  • “The Purloined Letter” — January 21-24, 1845 — New York Morning News (This reprint was first noted by Claude Richard, p. 54) (Reprinted abridged version from Chamber’s Edinburgh Journal)
    • “The Purloined Letter” — Part I — January 21, 1845
    • “The Purloined Letter” — Part II — January 24, 1845
  • “The Purloined Letter” — January 25, 1845 — New York Weekly News (Reprinted abridged version from Chamber’s Edinburgh Journal)
  • “The Purloined Letter” — January 28, 1845 — Lowell Courier (Lowell, MA)(Reprinted abridged version from Chamber’s Edinburgh Journal)
  • “Une Lettre volée” — August 1845 — Magazin pittoresque
  • “Une Lettre volée” — August 25, 1845, reprint of above — L‘Echo de la Presse
  • “De Gestolen Brief” — January 1847 — De Tijd (’s-Gravenhage, ie Den Haag or The Hague) (Dutch translation by Jacobus Leunis Van der Vliet (1814-1851), from the abridged version in Chamber’s Edinburgh Journal)
  • “[The Purloined Letter]” — in Dagligt Allehanda (noted as by Edgard Pöe) (An anonymous translation into Swedish, noted by Lars-Erik Nygren in E. A. Poe Review, Fall 2002, 3:124-125)
    • “[The Purloined Letter]” — Part I — June 30, 1847
    • “[The Purloined Letter]” — Part II — July 1, 1847
  • “La lettre volée” — (French translation by Charles Baudelaire)
    • “La lettre volée” — March 7-14, 1855 — Le Pays
      • “La lettre volée” — Part I — March 7, 1855
      • “La lettre volée” — Part II — March 8, 1855
      • “La lettre volée” — Part III — March 12, 1855
      • “La lettre volée” — Part IV — March 14, 1855
    • “La lettre volée” — 1856 — Histoires extraordinaires, Paris: Michel Lévy frères
  • “La Carta Robada [The Robbed Letter]” — 1858 — Newspaper of Barcelona  (Spanish translation)
  • “Le Lettre dérobée — (French translation by William L. Hughes)
    • “Le Lettre dérobée” — 1857 — Le Mousequetaire
      • “Le Lettre dérobée” — Part I — January 5, 1857
      • “Le Lettre dérobée” — Part II — January 6, 1857
      • “Le Lettre dérobée” — Part III — January 7, 1857
    • “Le Lettre dérobée” — 1885 — Oeuvres Choisies d‘Edgar Pöe, Paris: A. Hennuyer
  • “Det stjaalne Brev” — July 28, 1867 and August 4, 1867 — Figaro  (Danish translation by Robert Watt, noted by Carl L. Anderson, Poe in Northlight, 1973, p. 15)
  • “Det stjaalne Brev” — 1868 — Phantastiske Fortaellinger [Fantastic Tales] (Copenhagen)  (Danish translation by Robert Watt, noted by Anderson, p. 15)
  • “La Lettera Rubata” — 1876 — Racconti Incredibili, Milano, Italy: Tipografia Editrice Lombarda  (Italian translation, with several illustrations)
  • “[The Purloined Letter]” — 1881 — Underliga historier (Stockholm)  (Swedish translation, noted by Anderson, p. 54)
  • “[The Purloined Letter]” — 1882 — Valda noveller (Stockholm)  (Swedish translation, noted by Anderson, p. 54)
  • “The Purloined Letter” — 1886 — Hochi Shimbun  (Japanese translation by Morita Shiken)
  • “Der entwendete Brief” — 1890 — Seltsame Gesdichten, Stuttgart: Spemann  (German translation by Alfred Mürenberg)
  • “The Purloined Letter” — 1931 — separate reprint by Ulysses Bookshop (London) of the abridged version from Chamber’s Edinburgh Journal. (The introductory note, repeating the error of J. H. Whitty, describes this as an early version by Poe himself and incorrectly presents it as the true first edition of the tale.)
  • “The Purloined Letter” — September 17, 1948 — a radio show broadcast on The NBC University Theater show, starring Adolphe Menjou as Dupin. (This episode is available on CD as part of a 6-CD set of “Smithsonian Legendary Performers,” issued in 2004. As was often the case with dramatic presentations of Poe’s works, the story has been modified.)
  • “Mickey and the Hidden Letter” — about 2010 (undated) — Mickey’s Tales of Edgar Allan Poe, Milan: Disney (part II, Literary Classics, no. 24) (A comic-strip adaptation of Poe’s “The Purloined Letter.” The other story in this volume is “Mickey and the Golden Bug,” and adaptation of “The Gold Bug.” Translations were also published in Italian, Spanish, German, Finnish, and Danish.)


  • “The Purloined Letter” — (Fragment, 3 pages, respectively 3 7/16 x 5 3/4 inches; 3 x 3 7/8 inches; and 4 x 7 inches. The first sheet is a kind of title page, with “The Purloined Letter” and the byline of “By Edgar A. Poe,” and bearing the date of February 1845 and the notation “For The Gift Mag.” The second fragment comprises the following text: “At Paris, just after dark one gusty evening in the autumn of 18—, I was enjoying the twofold luxury of meditation and a meerschaum, in company with my friend C. Auguste Dupin, in his little back library, or book-closet, au troisiême, No.” The third fragment picks up at this point, continuing “33, Rue Dunôt, Faubourg St. Germain. [. . .],” and running to the end of the paragraph. There is one “correction,” with the word “attending” being inserted between “mystery” and “of.” The text is written in what appears to be dark brown ink, running from left to right edges, on only one side of the page, apparently in an attempt to imitate Poe’s use of roll manuscripts. The fragment was offered as a genuine Poe manuscript by New England Book Auctions, Sale Number 366, October 21, 2008, as item 207, with an estimate of $20,000-$30,000, but was promptly retracted from sale over doubts about its authenticity. As one such difficulty, the date of February 1845 fails to account for the fact that The Gift for 1845, an annual rather than a magazine, was actually printed and available late in 1844, anticipating sales for Christmas and New Year. It was in the collection of Richard Oinonen, who died in 2001, and is probably the work of Joseph Cosey. It may have been kept by Mr. Oinonen as an example of a forgery by someone who was notably notorious in the field, especially for his Poe forgeries.)



  • Ashtor, Gila, “The Gift (Book) That Keeps on Giving: Poe’s ‘The Purloined Letter,’ Rereading, Reprinting, and Detective Fiction,” Poe Studies: History, Theory, Interpretation, vol. 45, 2012, pp. 57-77
  • Benton, Richard P., “The Dupin MSS. As ‘Contes A Clef,’ Mathematics, and Imaginative Creation,” in Perspectives on Poe, ed. D. Ramakrishna, New Delhi: APC Publications, 1996, pp. 109-125
  • Bretzius, Stephen, “The Figure-Power Dialectic: Poe’s ‘Purloined Letter’,” Modern Language Notes, September 1995, 110:679-691
  • Cole, Merrill, “The Purloined Mirror,” LIT: Literature Interpretation and Theory, 1997, 8:135-151
  • Crisman, William, “Poe’s Dupin as Professional: The Dupin Stories as Serial Text,” Studies in American Fiction, Fall 1995, 23:215-229
  • Haycraft, Howard, “Poe’s ‘Purloined Letter’,” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 1962, 56:486-487
  • Heartman, Charles F. and James R. Canny, A Bibliography of First Printings of the Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, Hattiesburg, MS: The Book Farm, 1943.
  • Kopley, Richard, “ ‘The Purloined Letter’ and Death-Bed Confessions,” in Edgar Allan Poe and the Dupin Mysteries, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, pp. 65-76
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, “[introductory note, annotations and variants to ‘The Purloined Letter’]”, The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (Vols 2-3 Tales and Sketches), Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1978.
  • Richard, Claude, “Poe and ‘Young America’,” Studies in Bibliography (1968), 21:25-58.
  • Tansell, G. Thomas, “Unrecorded Early Reprintings of Two Poe Tales,” Publications of the Bibliographical Society of America (2nd Quarter, 1962), 54:252.
  • Varnado, S. L., “The Case of the Sublime Purloin: or Burke’s Inquiry as the Source of an Anecdote in ‘The Purloined Letter’,” Poe Newsletter, October 1968, 1:27
  • Wyllie, John Cooke, “A List of the Texts of Poe’s Tales,” Humanistic Studies in Honor of John Calvin Metcalf, Charlottesville: University of Virginia, 1941, pp. 322-338.


[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Tales - The Purloined Letter