“Wilmer” Manuscript Collection (about 1828)


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During their time together in Baltimore, Poe and Lambert A. Wilmer were good friends. Poe apparently created these manuscripts in preparation for Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems, published in Baltimore in 1829. The manuscript presumably represents a transitional form, and the order of poems appears to have been changed during the process of typesetting. Having a printed form of the poems, Poe was perhaps no longer interested in his handwritten manuscript and gave the pages to Wilmer (or he retreived them from being thrown out as was common for material once it had been set in type). Most of the collection was still in the possession of Wilmer’s family in 1894-1895, when the manuscripts were examined by G. E. Woodberry and E. C. Stedman as part of the research for their collection of Poe’s works. Two pages had already been separated from the rest (and others may also have been sold to autograph collectors or given to friends). These two pages were in the collection of William Evarts Benjamin, and they too were made available to Woodberry and Stedman. (The same leaves were apparently the two which were later owned by Oliver Barrett.) Of the eight texts the collection apparently contained, all but two still survive in manuscript form, although no longer a single collection and not all currently located. These “missing” poems were were recorded by Woodberry and Stedman and subsequently printed in their collection of The Works of Edgar Allan Poe (1895-1896). Mabbott (Poems, 1:582) briefly discusses the manuscript collection. He generally accepts the readings as printed by Woodberry and Stedman, but also makes some changes based on his own understanding of the poem.

The poems include:

  • “[[Sonnet to Science]]” (this manuscript was presumably part of the original collection, but has not survived. It is possible that the text is reflected in the poem as printed in the Saturday Evening Post of September 11, 1830) (bibliography entry)
  • “Al Aaraaf” (this manuscript was presumably part of the original collection, but has not survived.) (bibliography entry)
  • Tamerlane”  (fragments of the MS are now at the Morgan Pierpont Library) (bibliography entry)
  • “Preface” (this manuscript was presumably part of the original collection, but has not survived.) (bibliography entry)
  • To — —” [”Should my early life seem ...”]  (this manuscript appears to be lost, but recorded by Woodberry and Stedman) (bibliography entry)
  • To — — [Song]” [”I saw thee ...”]  (this manuscript, which was in the collection of Oliver Barrett, is currently unlocated, but recorded by Woodberry and Stedman. The text of this version was printed in the auction catalog from the sale of the George C. Smith, Jr. library, American Art Association, New York, November 23-24,1937, in the description for item 352.) (originally page 32 - back of leaf) (bibliography entry)
  • “To —— ——” (“The bowers whereat ...”) (this manuscript was presumably part of the original collection, but has not survived.) (bibliography entry)
  • In an Album. — To the River — [Po]”  (this manuscript, which was in the collection of Oliver Barrett, is currently unlocated, but recorded by Woodberry and Stedman. A facsimile of the page was also printed in the auction catalog from the sale of the library of George C. Smith, Jr., American Art Association, New York, November 23-24,1937, item 352. Prior to Smith, the manuscript had been in the collection of John A. Spoor, but had apparently been purchased privately as Spoor’s own collection was not put on the auction block until 1939.) (originally page 31 - front of leaf) (bibliography entry)
  • The Lake”  (this manuscript is now at the Morgan Pierpont Library) (originally pages 29-30 front and back of leaf, with the poem beginning in the middle of the page) (bibliography entry)
  • Spirits of the Dead”  (this manuscript is now in a private collection) (originally pages 35 and 36 - front and back of leaf) (bibliography entry)
  • “A Dream” (this manuscript was presumably part of the original collection, but has not survived.) (bibliography entry)
  • Alone [To M—]” [”I heed not ...”]  (this manuscript appears to be lost, but recorded by Woodberry and Stedman) (bibliography entry)
  • “Fairyland” (this manuscript was presumably part of the original collection, but has not survived.) (bibliography entry)
  • Dreams”  (this manuscript is now at the Morgan Pierpont Library) (originally pages 27-29 - the poem ends in the middle of the page) (Poe did not include this poem in the final printed collection of 1829.) (bibliography entry)


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Bibliographic Data:

Not applicable.


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Census of Copies:

Not applicable.


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Bibliography:

  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, ed., The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, volume I: Poems, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1969
  • Whitty, James Howard, ed., The Complete Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1911  (reprinted in 1917 and 1918)
  • Woodbery, George Edward, and Edmund Clarence Stedman, eds., The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 10: Poems, Chicago: Stone and Kimball, 1894-1895

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[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Editions - Wilmer Manuscript Collection (about 1828)