Text: Thomas Ollive Mabbott, “Tales of the Folio Club,” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. II: Tales and Sketches (1978), pp. 13-15 (This material is protected by copyright)


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[page 13:]

TALES OF THE FOLIO CLUB

“Tales of the Folio Club” is a title Poe gave in 1833 to a proposed collection of his early stories. The collection as he originally described it was never published, although several optimistic references to it as forthcoming appeared after the initial suggestion. A number of the tales he planned to include were composed before the end of 1831. He sent several of them to the newly founded Saturday Courier of Philadelphia, which on June 4, 1831, had carried the announcement that “as soon as proper arrangements can be effected, a premium of one hundred dollars will be awarded for the best American tale.” Rules for the contest were published in July, setting December 1 as the deadline for the submission of manuscripts. Poe submitted several, but the prize went to Delia Bacon for “Love’s Martyr.” In announcing the award on December 31, however, the Courier remarked: “Many of the other Tales offered for the Premium, are distinguished by great merit”; and in the course of the year 1832 it published five of Poe’s stories anonymously. These early texts were identified by Killis Campbell in 1916, and published in facsimile by John Grier Varner in 1933.*

Meanwhile, in the Baltimore Saturday Visiter of August 4, 1832 there was an editorial note, perhaps written by Lambert A. Wilmer, which indicates that Poe had composed a number of stories by that time:

Mr. Edgar A. Poe, has favoured us with the perusal of some manuscript tales written by him. If we were merely to say that we had read them, it would be a compliment, for manuscript of this kind are very seldom read by anyone but the author. But we may further say that we have read these tales every syllable, with the greatest pleasure, and for originality, richness of imagery and purity of the style, few American authors in our opinion have produced anything superior. [page 14:] With Mr. Poe’s permission we may hereafter lay one or two of the tales before our readers.

By May 4, 1833, Poe had formulated a plan for a volume to be called “Eleven Tales of the Arabesque,” which he described in a letter to Joseph T. and Edwin Buckingham, editors of the New England Magazine, sending “Epimanes” as a sample. The Messrs. Buckingham offered no encouragement, but within a few weeks it came from another source. On June 15, the Baltimore Saturday Visiter announced a competition with a prize of fifty dollars for the best tale and twenty-five dollars for the best poem submitted before October 1. Poe sent in a poem — “The Coliseum” — and a manuscript volume, “The Tales of the Folio Club,” containing six stories very neatly written in small, print-like characters. On October 12, the Visiter announced the awards and on October 19 published the prizewinners: John H. Hewitt’s poem, “The Song of the Wind,” submitted under a pseudonym, and Poe’s story, “MS. Found in a Bottle.” Poe’s poem was published the following week. Through this competition Poe first attracted attention as a writer of fiction. John P. Kennedy, one of the judges, became much interested in him, and suggested that he send his collection of tales to the Philadelphia publishers Carey & Lea. Carey felt that the volume would not be profitable, but he arranged the sale of at least one of the stories to an annual.

“The Tales of the Folio Club” never appeared as an independent volume. A revival of the scheme was mentioned in the Southern Literary Messenger for August 1835, with the number of tales being given as sixteen. On September 2 of the following year, in a letter trying to interest the Philadelphia publisher Harrison Hall in the project, Poe said there were seventeen tales, “originally written to illustrate a larger work, ‘On the Imaginative Faculties.’ ” Hall was not sufficiently interested, however, and the first collection of Poe’s stories — Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (dated 1840) — did not appear until late in 1839.

The introduction Poe composed for the collection of tales he envisioned in 1833 was first published by Harrison in 1902. It is [page 15:] given here in what seems to be its proper place in chronological order of composition, following the first eleven tales below.

 


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 13:]

*  See Killis Campbell, “New Notes on Poe’s Early Years,” The Dial, February 17, 1916, and J. G. Varner, Edgar Allan Poe and the Philadelphia Saturday Courier (Charlottesville, 1933).

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 14:]

  Quoted by Arthur H. Quinn, in Edgar Allan Poe (1941), pp. 194-195.

 


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Notes:

None.


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[S:1 - TOM2T, 1978] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (T. O. Mabbott) (Tales of the Folio Club)