The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe (1850-1856)


The set of four volumes (1850-1856) edited by Rufus Wilmot Griswold (1815-1857) and printed by J. S. Redfield (Justus Starr Redfield, 1810-1888) is an important crossroads in the publication of Poe's writings. It was the first attempt at collecting both poetry and prose, and the first collection of Poe's critical, editorial and miscellaneous writings. Relying on a wealth of manuscript notes and corrections, it is also the last collection to be at least partially authorized by Poe. It became the standard edition of Poe's works for 25 years, and served as the model for nearly another quarter of a century. It is also the edition upon which Charles Baudelaire based his famous translations of Poe's works into French in Histoires Extraordinaires (1856), Nouvelles Histoires Extraordinaires (1857) and Histoires Grotesques Et Sérieuses (1865).

The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe (The Griswold Edition) (1850-1856)

It would be difficult, merely seeing these unprepossessing volumes on a shelf, to appreciate their controversial history.  News of Poe's death in Baltimore on October 7, 1849 reached his mother-in-law, Maria Clemm, in New York two days later. Shortly thereafter, she and Mrs. Shew appear to have approached Rufus W. Griswold and requested that he edit and publish a collection of Poe's writings. It is often repeated that Poe himself asked that Griswold be his editor, but there is no definitive surviving evidence for this statement nor any explanation for why Poe should have thought that he would require an editor. In 1854, Mrs. Lewis wrote, “I did tell Griswold that Mr. Poe expressed a desire that he should become his editor, in case of his death. I did this in compliance with Mr. Poe's own request. He had great confidence in Griswold's editorial ability ...” (Sarah Anna Lewis to George W. Eveleth, Nov. 6, 1854, quoted in Miller, pp. 199-200). At the time, Griswold himself wrote, “I undertook to edit his writings to oblige Mrs. Clemm ...” (R. W. Griswold to S. H. Whitman,  December 17, 1849, Harrison, vol. II,  p. 406). To J. R. Lowell, Griswold wrote, “Poe was not my friend — I was not his — and he had no right to devolve upon me this duty of editing his works. He did so, however, and under the circumstances I could not well refuse compliance with the wishes of his friends here. From his constant habit of repeating himself, and from his habits of appropriation, particularly in the Marginalia, it is a difficult task; but I shall execute it as well as I can, in the short time that is allowed to me — that is, in three weeks” (R. W. Griswold to J. R. Lowell, October 18 or 25, 1849, quoted in Quinn, 1941, p. 658).

Whether the idea was Poe's, Mrs. Clemm's, Mrs. Lewis's or Griswold's, Mrs. Clemm had a contract written up on October 15, 1849 which granted Griswold full power of attorney. (This contract is itself the subject of some controversy as Poe's true legal heir should have been his sister, Rosalie, rather than Mrs. Clemm.) A notice “To the Reader” from Mrs. Clemm was to appear in the first volume, stating that the publication was for her financial benefit, although she seems never to have received more than a number of sets of the volumes to sell. On March 9, 1850, Mrs. Clemm wrote to James Russell Lowell, “I have received a letter from Mr. Redfield. (The publisher of my dear son[[’]]s E. A. Poe[[’]]s works) in which he states that I will not receive any thing from those works until the expenses are paid. I suppose this is right, but in the mean time I must be entirely destitute” (M. Clemm to J. R. Lowell, March 9, 1850, quoted in Quinn, 1941, p. 461). Later in the same year, Mrs. Clemm wrote to another correspondent that selling the volumes she has on hand is “the only emolument that I shall receive from them at present” (M. Clemm to unknown correspondent, December 2, 1850, quoted in Gimbel, 1959, p. 185). After the appearance of Griswold's slanderous “Memoir” several months later in 1850, Mrs. Clemm came to regret her actions. In an 1860 letter to Neilson Poe, she refers to Griswold as “that base, base man” (M. Clemm to N. Poe, August 26, 1860, quoted in Miller, p. 50). In 1875, E. Dora Houghton wrote to John Ingram, “When the books were published her indignation and grief was heart-rending to witness, and after ineffectual efforts, to get justice — expressed herself as heartbroken and was said never to have smiled again” (E. D. Houghton to J. Ingram, January 9, 1875, quoted in Miller, 1977, p. 90). Mrs. Shew also recalled that Maria Clemm had sold a bracelet “for three hundred dollars ... intended to pay Griswold to keep his infamous life or destroy it and make none but such as Mr. Poe's friends approved” (M. L. Shew to J. Ingram, January 23, 1875, quoted in Miller, 1977, p. 97). Griswold, likewise, had no love for Mrs. Clemm, writing to S. H. Whitman, “I cannot refrain from begging you to be very careful what you say or write to Mrs. Clemm, who is not your friend, nor anybody's friend, and who has no element of goodness or kindness in her nature, but whose heart and understanding are full of malice and wickedness” (R. W. Griswold to S. H. Whitman,  December 17, 1849, quoted in Harrison, vol. XVII,  p. 406). T. O. Mabbott notes, “The appointment has led to much discussion; the most reasonable view is that Poe had wished Griswold, a very able man, to be his editor, and had even mentioned the possibility to him, but in a way that Griswold had not thought a firm commitment” (Mabbott, Poems, p. 571, n. 8).

Having secured the rights and material for two volumes, Griswold immediately set to work. He asked Nathaniel Parker Willis and James Russell Lowell to revise previously published essays they had written about Poe so that these could be used as introductory material. A letter from Griswold to J. R. Lowell notes that “There are now six persons employed in setting up the copy, and I understand four others will be added next week” (R. W. Griswold to J. R. Lowell, October 31, 1849, quoted in Quinn, 1941, p. 659.) James Cephas Derby comments that “Dr. Griswold had offered the works to nearly all the leading publishers, who declined to undertake the publication. He finally persuaded Mr. Redfield to try the experiment of issuing two volumes first, which were published and had a fair sale — then the third, and finally the fourth, volume were added to complete the works. The sale reached about fifteen hundred sets every year”  (Derby, 1884, pp. 586-587). Curiously, Derby also claims, “The copyright was paid at first to Mr. Poe, and after his death to his mother-in-law, Mrs. Clemm, who received the copyright on several editions. She came to Mr. Redfield one day in a great strait — saying she was going to Baltimore to enter a home for aged females. She wanted to raise two hundred and fifty dollars, and if he would let her have that amount, she would relinquish all claims to copyright. Mr. Redfield hesitated at first, but finally yielded to her importunities and paid her the money, thus becoming owner of the copyright as well as stereotype plates of Poe's complete works” (Derby, 1884, p. 587). This claim has two serious flaws. Firstly, the edition did not even appear until after Poe's death, so that he could hardly have received any copyright payments. Secondly, the copyright notices on all volumes, including the earliest printings, clearly give J. S. Redfield as the holder. Derby's comment about Griswold having trouble finding a publisher for the set echoes statements made in an anonymous article many years earlier: “On the death of the late Edgar A. Poe, and when almost every other publisher in the City had declined bringing out his works, he issued them, in three ample volumes. They were remarkably successful, five large editions having since been sold” (”Publishers and Publishing in New-York,” The New-York Tribune, March 17, 1854.)

The first two volumes were advertised as early as October of 1849, but were probably not actually available until about January 10, 1850. (In the first editions, both volumes carry the copyright date of 1849. In later editions, volume I continues to carry the 1849 copyright, while volume II carries a copyright date of 1850. A notice from the Richmond Whig and Public Advertiser for October 30, 1849 requests anyone with letters from Poe to forward them to Griswold through J. R. Thompson, and states, “Two volumes of the Works of Mr. Poe, comprising about 1000 pages, will be issued under Mr. Griswold's supervision, in New York, in about 4 weeks.” An advertisement in the New-York Tribune of January 9, 1850 announces that the volumes will be published on January 10, 1850. A brief but very favorable review appeared in The Dollar Newspaper (Philadelphia) of January 16, 1850, just three days before what would have been Poe's 41st birthday.) It seems to have sold well, as a second printing was required within four months. (J. H Whitty, in printing J. R. Thompson's The Genius and Character of Edgar Allan Poe, includes a letter of February 19, 1850 to Thompson from Griswold (pp. 54-56) in which Griswold claims that the first two volumes have not been selling.)

The third volume was first issued on September 21, 1850. (The “Preface” is dated “New-York, September 2, 1850.” The New York Tribune for September 19, 1850 notes that the volume will be available in two days.) Griswold claimed that it required more editorial work than the first two volumes. In the same letter to Thompson, mentioned above, he notes “Yet, I am preparing a third volume, which I propose to entitle Literary Characters, Marginalia, and Discourses of the late E. A. Poe, the third and concluding volume of his works” (p. 55). Griswold continues, “Under the head of Literary Characters I propose to place not only the notices of men and women which he himself printed under the title, but the more personal reviews which I can identify in the S. L. M, Graham's Magazine, The Whig-Review, &c. In the Marginalia I shall include the various series of thoughts and suggestions which he published in this form and has not repeated in his more elaborate performances” (p. 55). There has been some discussion as to whether volume III was initially sold as a continuation of the prior two volumes or as a separate book. The title page of the 1850 edition does not bear any indication of being volume III, although bindings often do carry the designation of “Vol. 3.” Some of these books have clearly been rebound by owners seeking to have a unified appearance for the set. Others, however, appear to be original publishers’ bindings. It is not unlikely that the book was available both ways, or that the publishers provided a binding based on the preference of the buyer. An advertisement in Thomas Wrights's book Narratives of Sorcery and Magic (New York: J. S. Redfield, 1852, mentioned in the Poe Catalogue of the 19th Century Shop, 1992, as item #655) shows that the first two volumes were still being sold separately from the third volume (for $2.50).

In 1852, all three volumes were reprinted exactly as they were issued in 1850. (Only the date on the title page was changed.) In 1853, a number of modifications were made to reshape the three books into a cohesive set. In this process, the “Preface” and “Memoir” were relocated from volume III to volume I and “The Poetic Principle” moved to volume II. In repositioning “The Poetic Principle,” which had been at the front of volume III, the printer renumbered the pages of the essay as prefatory material (pages vii - xxvi) but left volume III starting at page 21. (This anomaly was left unchanged in future printings.) The title page of volume II was changed from “Poems and Miscellanies” to “Poems and Tales,” and the copyright date on the back of the title page changed from 1849 to 1850. The title of volume III  was also changed at this time to simply “The Literati,” and was clearly marked as volume III. In this form, the three volumes were again reprinted in 1855.

In spite of Griswold's statement to Thompson that the third volume was to be the final one, a fourth volume was issued in 1856, one year before Griswold's own death. (The “Preface” for this volume is dated “New York, Feb . 13, 1856.” An advertisement for J. S. Redfield, appearing in the New York Daily Tribune for February 26, 1856 states that the volume will be ready for sale “next week.”) The chief item in this volume was “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.” Griswold had apparently debated as to whether or not to include this work in the set as early as 1849. On November 3, 1849, Mrs. Lewis wrote to him, “I have read carefully ‘Arthur Gordon Pym. ’ It is not written with the care and classic finish that characterize ‘The Gold Bug, ’ and ‘The House of Usher, ’ but with more freshness and dramatic effect. The interest never lags. The movement is almost constant. I think that a collection of Mr. Poe's Tales will be incomplete without it” (quoted by Bayless, p. 283-284, n 24). Many sets combine this one volume with earlier printings of the previous three. (A number of obvious typographical errors, especially in “Pym,” remained through several subsequent printings. These were corrected when W. J. Widdleton printed its slightly revised edition in 1861.) There are nearly annual reprints of the full four-volume set: 1857-1861, 1863-1870, and a final reprint in 1871, when Mrs. Clemm died. It was briefly suspended, until John Ingram's revisions in 1874-1875, with Ingram's far more sympathetic account of Poe's life replacing Griswold's “Memoir.” (After 1871, the one-page notice by Maria Clemm “To The Reader” was also removed.)

An 1859 edition, clearly from the Redfield plates, was printed by the New York firm of Blakeman & Mason. By 1861, Redfield had sold the rights to W. J. Widdleton, which modified the title of the volumes to “The Works of Edgar Allan Poe,” dropping the phrase “The Late,” but retaining the Redfield copyright, lamp and serpent logo, Griswold's “Memoir of the Author” and the “To the Reader” notice by Maria Clemm. Widdleton reapplied for the copyright in 1876 and continued to issue both the full set and a single volume of poems until about 1882, when the rights were acquired by W. C. Bush. (A copy of Publishers Weekly for July 31, 1875, p. 252, provides two names on a list of “Selling Houses” for W. J. Widdleton; one name is Widdleton's and the other is W. C. Bush. It may, therefore, be presumed that Widdleton and Bush were business partners. A copy of Publishers Weekly for September 2, 1876 mentions William C. Bush in connection with W. J. Widdleton in a context that again suggests some sort of business partnership. Perhaps merely coincidental is the William C. Bush who was born in 1836 and died on Feb. 24, 1896, and is noted as a businessman who lived in Rochester, NY.) In 1884, Bush sold the rights to A. C. Armstrong & Sons (owned by Andrew Campbell Armstrong, 1860-1935), which issued Poe's writings in several forms, most notably a six volume set with additional material and also a new memoir, by Richard Henry Stoddard. Armstrong appears to have sold the rights to George Putnam's Sons about 1902. Several years earlier (1894-1895), George Edward Woodberry and Edmund Clarence Stedman had created a new edition of Poe's works, extending the collection to 10 volumes. These editors were aware of concerns raised by John H. Ingram (1874) and W. F. Gill (1878) that Griswold had tampered with Poe's writings. Their “General Preface” (signed “The Editors” and dated “New York, Oct. 28, 1894”) deals with this concern by stating that “in view of the contemporary uncertainty of Poe's fame, the difficulty of obtaining a publisher, and the fact that the editorial work was not paid for, little fault can justly be found with Griswold, who did secure what Poe in his lifetime could never accomplish, — a tolerably complete collected edition of the tales, reviews, and poems” (Woodberry and Stedman, “General Preface,” 1894-1896, p. v.). (Ironically, Woodberry and Stedman even begin their first volume with a frontispiece engraving of the same portrait of Poe used by Griswold in his edition.) More recently, Burton Pollin contradicts Woodberry's insistence that Griswold had undertaken the editing of Poe's works out of a sense of charity, noting “Everyone soon knew of the great benefit to editor Griswold, in both income and reputation, brought by this large, lavish volume ...” (Pollin, 1991, p. 151).

Given Griswold's notorious “memoir” of Poe and numerous variations from earlier printings,  the debate about the authority of the Griswold texts continued. James Albert Harrison, for example, commented in his 1902 edition of Poe's works, “After a thorough examination of all the existing editions of Poe's works, the editor became convinced that no satisfactory text of the poet's writings could be established without direct study of the original sources in which these writings first and last appeared. Existing editions conflicted in so many points that no course was left except to reject them all — beginning with Griswold, whom all had more or less faithfully followed ...” (Harrison, “Editor's Preface,” 1902, vol. I, p. vii.) Part of this distrust may be due to a problem noted by Mabbott: “At some time after 1853, something happened, some accident to the type, to introduce a number of new errors, especially in Volume I between pages 131 and 213. These errors are recorded as Griswold's in the variants of Harrison's Complete works of Poe (1902). Apparently one of the ‘defective ’ later copies of Works was used for collation, and the errors in it were, no doubt, one of the reasons R. A. Stewart (Harrison II, 299) called the Works ‘very defective in typography. ’ The texts therein are not free from errors, but a comparison of the original 1850 Works text with the original Broadway Journal texts shows by far more typographical errors in the latter” (Mabbott, Tales and Sketches, 1978, p. 1400).

Reviewing the Harrison edition in 1902,  Woodberry again emphasized Griswold's “lack of motive.” (This review is not signed, but Killis Campbell identifies it as by G. E. Woodberry in The Mind of Poe and Other Studies, 1933, p. 95, note 1. The tone and contents of the review strongly support this attribution.) Woodberry goes on to say, “The truth is, that the editor's [Harrison's] prejudice against Griswold has led him to reject Poe's own late and mature revision of his major critical writing in favor of these early, scattered, and fragmentary forms in which they appeared in the magazines in their original helter-skelter production. ... In conclusion, it must be held that Griswold's authority, so far from being impaired, is strengthened by the present attack on him, and that the edition itself suffers in just that proportion in which it departs from him in substance. In any discussion of the text of Poe the primary fact should never be lost sight of, namely, that Griswold had Poe's papers, as collected and prepared by Poe himself ...” (Woodberry, The Nation, p. 446).

Perhaps in a further response to Harrison, a revised reprint was issued in 1903 of the landmark 10-volume edition prepared in 1894-1895 by Woodberry and Stedman. They repeated their earlier “General Preface” (now dated “New York, October 1, 1902) and added several sentences to the end: “On reviewing their work, the editors feel assured that the present edition embodies Poe's writings, both as to substance and form, in the way that he desired when he intrusted [sic] them to his literary executor, Dr. Griswold. It would be possible to expand the critical portion of his works indefinitely by collecting the large number of his early reviews; but nothing of value would thereby be added, as he himself included in his later notices all that was not purely contemporary and transitory in these; in ‘The Literati ’ especially, and its cognate pieces, he had summed up his lifelong critical work in the form in which he desired it to survive. It is with confidence, therefore, that the editors present this edition as complete and definitive” (Woodberry and Stedman, “General Preface,” 1903, p. xi.)

Rather more succinctly, T. O. Mabbott stated, “Harrison distrusted Griswold and all his works, and preferred the periodicals when it was possible to use them, although he accepted the extensive changes of ‘The Balloon Hoax ’ and several other pieces. Griswold's tampering with texts of letters discredits him badly. But no evidence of mistreatment of the text of the tales can be found, and, after all, the man had no motive to alter Poe's fiction” (Mabbott, Tales and Sketches, 1978, p. 1400, footnote.) George E. Hatvary makes an even bolder statement: “Since the Harrison text [of the essay “Fifty Suggestions”] is identical to the Griswold text, it is clear that, notwithstanding his frequent disparagement of Griswold's editing, Harrison, while creating the impression that he was going back to the original version, was actually basing his text on Griswold's” (Hatvary, 1971, p. 47).

As Mabbott points out elsewhere, however, Griswold's text cannot be considered definitive as he did not always have copies of Poe's latest corrections and, particularly in volume III, seems to have imposed a somewhat heavier editorial hand. In a few cases, he may even have manipulated some of the material to support charges made in his “memoir” of Poe. Edward H. O ’Neill, examining the text of Poe's “Marginalia,” commented “Griswold must have known of the various installments of ‘Marginalia ’ published by Poe, though he made no attempt to print them as they originally appeared. Instead, ... he made a new text, dropping and adding for no apparent reason” (E. H. O ’Neill, “The Poe-Griswold-Harrison Texts of the ‘Marginalia ’,” American Literature, pp. 238-250). This charge is mostly unfounded, as Griswold likely was following manuscript notes left by Poe for a proposed but never completed edition variously called “A Critical History of American Literature,” “The American Parnassus” and “Literary America.” (O ’Neill acknowledges this possibility on p. 246 of his article: “It may be that Griswold prepared his ‘Marginalia ’ from notes or revised manuscripts which have disappeared.”) In this effort, Poe himself had somewhat haphazardly cut and pasted material from various reviews, the “Literati” papers and his “Marginalia” series. The final product, at least as it stood when Poe seems to have abandoned it in 1848, was certainly not ready for publication and its full form, and Griswold's modifications to it, will never fully be known since only parts of the manuscript have survived intact. Whether or not Poe intended to include the five special items not printed as part of the original “Literati” series of 1846 (namely those for “Charles F. Briggs,” “James Lawson,” “Frances Sargent Osgood,” “Mary E. Hewitt” and especially “Thomas Dunn Brown [English]”) cannot now be conclusively ascertained. In a footnote, Burton Pollin comments “Poe clearly intended to include all or many of his Literati sketches of 1846 in ‘Literary America, ’ as Griswold knew from the copies in Poe's literary remains. His substitution of these five papers was not a fraud or deception as James Harrison said” (Pollin, 1991, p. 161, note 18). In the same footnote, Pollin also quotes from a penciled note in Mabbott's own set of Harrison's edition of Poe's works: “All are undeniably Poe's save, perhaps, for a small interpolation (on English) by ... Griswold.”

Whichever side one favors in the debate, there is no doubting the important and influential position of this collection in the history of Poe's literary legacy. Dismissing the “Memoir,” the Griswold edition of Poe's works remains a significant archive of Poe's writings, embodying some revisions which might otherwise have been entirely lost.


Bibliographic Data:

12mo (7 1/2 in x 4 5/8 in also 7 3/8 in x 4 9/16 in). Pages: vol. I - [i-ii], [i-xxii], [1] -483, plus four pages of advertisements and portrait frontispiece; vol II - [i-iv], [7] - 495; vol III - [i-xl], [1] - 607; vol IV - [i-xii] [13] - 447, plus advertisements. Various bindings are known, all in cloth or leather. Among the most notable bindings are those with a gold-stamped bust of Athene with a raven. These bindings began with the third volume and continued in the production of the full, 4-volume sets.

Matching that of the 1845 Tales and The Raven and Other Poems, the font appears to be Scotch Roman, or New Pica Roman Number 2, a typeface that was very popular in the United States in the early part of the Nineteenth Century.


A Chronology of Printings and Reprintings:

  • J. S. Redfield
    • 1850 - volumes I & II (first printing of these volumes)
    • 1850 - September 21 - volume III (first printing of this volume) (Issues of the Evening Post (New York) of September 11-21, 1850 (p. 2, col. 6), contain a repeated notice by Redfield stating that the volume “will be published on Saturday.”)
    • 1852 - reprint of volumes I-III (in the 1850 format. Only the date on the title pages is changed. The title pages for volumes I and II still state that it is “In two volumes,” although sets generally have indications of being volume I, II and III stamped on the spine.)
    • 1853 - reprint of volumes I-III, with some material moved from volume III to volumes I and II. The title pages for volumes I, II and III now state “In three volumes.” The title page of volume III is further altered, so that it bears the III designation and is now called simply “The Literati.”
    • 1855 - reprint of volumes I-III (in the 1853 format) (a number of new typographical errors appear in these texts, presumably a result of poorly corrected damage to the stereoplates)
    • 1856 - volume IV (first printing of this volume), plus reprints of volumes I- III
    • 1857 - reprint of volumes I-IV
    • 1858 - reprint of volumes I-IV
    • 1859 - reprint of volumes I-IV (These may have been issued early in 1859, using remainder pages and a new title page.)
    • 1860 - reprint of volumes I-IV (The fact that these bear the name of J. S. Redfield and the imprint date of 1860 on the title pages raises questions about the Blakeman & Mason printing, dated 1859. There is at least one other imprint by Blakeman & Mason, of a non-Poe title, printed in 1862, suggesting that the arrangment with Redfield may have been temporary. An advertisement in the American Publisher's Circular and Literary Gazetter for March 24, 1860, p. 157, announces the “Sale extraordinary of stereotype plates, Copyrights, Rights to Publish &c. embracing all the publications of J. S. Redfield — sold by order of J. F. Zebley, Trustee.” Redfield committed suicide by an overdose of Laudanum on March 24, 1888, as reported in the American Stationer for March 29, 1888, 23:643.)
  • Sampson Low, Son & Co.
    • 1857 - British reprint of volumes I-IV (Sampson Low, Son & Co. This appears to be an authorized reprint, in cooperation with Redfield, and is the earliest multi-volume collection of Poe's works published in Great Britain. The location and name “New York: J. S. Redfield” appears on the title page under that of Sampson Low, Son & Co.)
  • Blakeman & Mason
    • 1859 - reprint of volumes I-IV (with publisher given as Blakeman & Mason) (The firm of Blakeman & Mason, as publishers and booksellers, was formed in January 1859, by Birdsey Blakeman and Albert Mason. Blakeman died in 1866. Blakeman & Mason advertised their printing of the Poe set as early as March 19, 1859 — stated as to be published on April 1, 1859 — in American Publishers’ Circular.)
  • W. J. Widdleton
    • 1861 - reprint of volumes I-IV (with new title of “The Works of Edgar Allan Poe” and Widdleton noted on title page as “Successor to J. S. Redfield.” The frontispiece of Poe has been greatly modified. Although it is essentially the same portrait, the dark background has been omitted and the portrait itself produced in a lighter steel engraving rather than the very sombre mezzotint. The artist for the new portrait is not identified, nor does it carry Poe's name.) (Widdleton is listed as “Successor to J. S. Redfield” as early as October 27, 1860 in American Publishers’ Circular and Literary Gazette, 6:559. The same brief ad states: “To The Book Trade. The undersigned having purchased from the receiver, the entire Stock of Stereotype Plates and Books, formerly published by J. S. Redfield, will continue the business on his own account. Wm. J. Widdleton, Successor to J. S. Redfield, Publisher and Bookseller, 34 Beekman-st. New York.” The statement itself is dated September 24th, 1860, and the receiver is listed as Henry Panton. The business address was the same as had been used by Redfield.)
    • [1862 - an undated set was probably issued in 1862, also being a reprint of volumes I-IV (in 1861 format)]
    • 1863 - reprint of volumes I-IV (in 1861 format)
    • 1864 - reprint of volumes I-IV (in 1861 format)
    • 1865 - reprint of volumes I-IV (in 1861 format)
    • 1866 - reprint of volumes I-IV (in 1861 format)
    • 1867 - reprint of volumes I-IV (in 1861 format)
    • 1868 - reprint of volumes I-IV (in 1861 format)
    • 1869 - reprint of volumes I-IV (in 1861 format)
    • 1870 - reprint of volumes I-IV (in 1861 format)
    • 1871 - reprint of volumes I-IV (in 1861 format)

With the death of Maria Clemm in 1871, Widdleton ceased publication of the collected works, focusing for the next several years on separate editions of the poetry and the Prose Tales series. This event essentially marks the end of the Griswold edition. In 1876, Widdleton resumed printing the 4 volume set, dropping Griswold's memoir and incorporating various changes from the Ingram edition. The introductory material by N. P. Willis and J. R. Lowell continued to appear in many subsequent editions. A number of changes and errors made in Griswold's texts also were repeated, showing that editors often found it more convenient to rely on the readily available set in preference to seeking out original sources. The following are just a few examples, from various publishers:

  • circa. 1890-1900 - The Works of Edgar Allan Poe (two volumes). Publisher is New York: Charles C. Bigelow & Co.) (Mrs. Clemm's introductory letter is included as “Preface to the 1849 edition.” The two volumes contain the tales from the Griswold volume I, up through “William Wilson,” but omitting “Berenice,” “Eleonora,” “Ligeia,” “Morella,” and “Metzengerstein.”)
  • 1898 - Prose Tales, selected short stories by Poe, in one volume. (Publisher is Thomas Y. Crowell and Co.) (This edition is prefaced by the following comment: “THE twelve tales here presented are generally regarded as representative of Poe's peculiar genius. They are selected from the edition of 1850, published by Mrs. Clemm, Poe's faithful mother-in-law and good angel. The introduction, by James Russel [[Russell]] Lowell, which gives as a biographical item Poe's mythical visit to St. Petersburg, and the portrait, are both from the same edition, — an edition so rare that it is not in the Boston Public Library or in the Athenæum.” Although it claims to be from the 1850 edition, the texts include errors from the 1856 printing of Griswold's edition.)
  • 1902 - Introduction and designs copyrighted by George Putnam's Sons. (Ten volumes, but continues several of the errors from the Griswold edition. The introduction is now by Charles F. Richardson.)
  • 1903 - copyrighted by P. F. Collier & Son. (Five volumes, but continues several of the errors from the Griswold edition. Called the “Raven Edition.”) (Still carries the introductory articles by Willis and Lowell.)
  • ... and others.

Separate printings of The Poetical Works :

  • J. S. Redfield
    • 1858 - large volume edition illustrated by F. S. Pickerskill, John Tenniel, F. O. C. Darley, etc. with a new memoir (unsigned, beginning “It would be well for all poets ...” (This volume was apparently a joint effort between Redfield and Sampson Low, Son & Co., using American and British artists. It was first announced as early as July 4, 1857, with an expected publication date of October 1857. This announcement lists several of the artists, but does not include John Tenniel, who was presumably engaged later. In the “long-promised and magnificent book” was announced by Redfield in the American Publishers’ Circular and Literary Gazette as being available as of the first of September 1858. The announcment includes several short and highly complimentary comments by British journals, suggesting that they had actually seen the work, at least in some preliminary form. The wood engravings are noted as having been prepared by Linton, Cooper, Evans and Co. Redfield included essentially the same advertisement for the book in his 1858 edition of On the Authorized Version of the New Testament by Richard Chenevix Trench, DD. The engravers were William James Linton (1812-1897), James Davis Cooper (1823-1904) and Edmund Evans (1826-1905), all of whom were British artists.)
  • Sampson Low, Son & Co
    • 1858 - large volume, with illustrations by F. S. Pickerskill, John Tenniel, F. O. C. Darley, etc. (An advertisement placed by Sampson, Low & Son appeared in the Literary Gazette, of London, for August 29, 1857, states the anticipated publication date of the book in early August, although it does not actually appear to have been issued before 1858. That advertisement lists the name of John Tenniel as the first of the artists that would be included.)
    • 1866 - reprint  (Publisher is Sampson Low, Son & Marston. This edition drops Poe's essay on “The Poetic Principle”)
  • Ward, Lock and Tyler
    • ca. 1870-1873 - reprint of volume with illustrations by F. S. Pickerskill, John Tenniel, F. O. C. Darley, etc

Blue & Gold format (small volume, popular at the time for cabinet editions):

  • J. S. Redfield
    • 1859 or 1860 - (There is no date on the title page, but 1859 is given as the copyright, and it was in 1859 that Redfield surrendered the rights to its various editions, so the date may be accepted. It was advertised as early as March 29, 1859, in American Publishers’ Circular, listing Redfield as the publisher, but as early as March 12, 1859, Redfield was being listed as an agent rather than as a publisher. The original price was 75 cents. On May 14, 1859 it was noted as being in press, to be ready about June 1, although technically Redfield is listed in this advertisement as an agent rather than as the publisher. An advertisement for May 7, 1859 lists the Poe book of poetry, in this format, as being published by Blakeman & Mason, and another works is listed with the parenthetical note “in connection with J. S. Redfield.” By June 11, 1859, Redfield is noted as publishing “a new work by Simms.”)
  • Blakeman & Mason
    • 1859 - reprint (the printing in this format by Blakeman & Mason is advertised as early as August 6, 1859, in American Publishers’ Circular, although the same publication lists Redfield as printing the book as late as July 2, 1859. It is again listed as being published by Redfield on October 15, 1859.)
  • W. J. Widdleton
    • 1861 - reprint (copyright states J. S. Redfield, 1859, and title page states that W. J. Widdleton is the “successor to J. S. Redfield.” Frontispiece is the same portrait as the earlier editions)
    • 1863 - reprint (copyright states W. J. Widdleton, 1863, and the frontispiece has been changed from the one used in the earlier editions)
    • 1869 - reprint
    • 1871 - reprint
    • 1872 - reprint
    • 1876 - reprint

The Poetical Works of  Edgar Allan Poe (with illustrations by Waller H. Paton, John M ’Whirter, etc.):

  • W. J. Widdleton  
    • 1870 - The Poetical Works of  Edgar Allan Poe
  • John C. Nimmo (Edinburgh)
    • 1872 - (also an undated edition, which may be 1870 or 1880)

Miscellaneous edtions of Poe's Poetical Works:

  • W. J. Widdleton
    • 1863 -
    • 1864 -
    • 1866 -
    • 1867 -
    • 1869 -
    • 1872 -
    • 1874 -
    • 1875 - with a new memoir by R. H. Stoddard
    • 1876 - with a new “memoir and vindication” by William Fearing Gill
    • 1877 - with a new memoir by Eugene Lemoine Didier
    • 1881 - with an unsigned new memoir
    • 1882 - with the unsigned memoir

Separate printings of The Prose Tales :

  • W. J. Widdleton
    • 1867 - The Prose Tales, first and second series. (This is the firfst issue in this format)
    • 1877 - The Prose Tales, first and second series, reprint (in the 1867 format)
    • 1878 - The Prose Tales, first and second series, reprint (in the 1867 format)
    • 1880 - The Prose Tales, first and second series, reprint (in the 1867 format)
  • A. C. Armstrong & Sons
    • 1884 - The Prose Tales, first and second series, reprint.  (This issue of the set continues to use the pages from the Widdleton set. Even the binding is essentially identical to that used by Widdleton, with the only notable difference being the name of the publisher at the base of the spine. Armstrong later reformatted the set using pages from its own collection of Poe's works and rearranged to form 3 volumes. This new set was first issued in 1889.)
    • 1886 - The Prose Tales, first and second series, reprint (in 1867 format)
    • 1889 - The Prose Tales, 3 volumes (Previously, Armstrong issued reprints of the Widdleton set, in 2 volumes. Even the binding was identical to that used by Widdleton, with the only notable difference being the name of the publisher at the base of the spine. Now, Armstrong reformatted the set using pages from its own collection of Poe's works and rearranged to form 3 volumes. Some booksellers note this as being the 6th printing, presumably based on the list of copyrights. Although the Armstrong copyright date is 1884, this 1889 set of the Prose Tales is essentially a new edition and could be granted its own copyright date.)
    • 1893 - The Prose Tales, 3 volumes (reprint in 1889 format)
    • 1900 - The Prose Tales, 3 volumes (reprint in 1889 format)
  • Dana Estes & Company (Boston)
    • about 1895 - The Prose Tales, first, second and third series, reprint.  (This issue of the set reprints the three “series” issued by A. C. Armstrong.)


Census of Copies:

There are so many surviving copies of these volumes that a complete listing is impractical and unnecessary. This census records copies of special interest. The provenance of each entry is established as authoritatively as possible, given the sketchy and often convoluted bits of information available. In nearly all case, the chain of owners has gaps, especially among the early owners, whose names are generally known only if the owner left an inscription.

  • Susan Jaffe Tane, private collector, New York. The first three volumes, inscribed by Maria Clemm in brown ink (vol. I - “To the Misses Strong from their sincere friend Maria Clemm”; vol II - “To the Misses Strong from their grateful friend Maria Clemm”; vol III - “To the Misses Strong from their affectionate friend”) The list of prior owners is as follows” 1. Maria Clemm (Poe's mother-in-law and aunt); 2. The Misses Strong (given to these sisters by Maria Clemm); 3. William K. Bixby (1857-1931), St. Louis collector; 4. Mrs. Florence Meyers Blumenthal (???); 5. Gabriel Wells; 6. H. Bradley Martin (The collection of H. Bradley Martin was sold at an auction by Southeby's on January 30 and 31, 1990); 7. David P. Elkovitch (Mr. Elkovitch offered the item for sale on Ebay on April 12, 2001); 8. Susan Jaffe Tane, private collector, New York (purchased on eBay, April 12, 2001). Formerly included with this copy, was a letter from Mrs. Clemm to Thomas Holley Chivers, dated March 2, 1853. (The first page of this letter is reproduced in the catalog of Mrs. Tane's 2014 exhibit, p. 124)
  • Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin, Texas. (formerly from the collections of William H. Koester and Stephen Wakeman. The first two volumes, inscribed by Maria Clemm (vol I - “To A. Bardwell Heywood, Esq., from his sincere friend Maria Clemm”; vol II - “To Dear Bardie, from his affectionate friend, Maria Clemm.” Included with this copy, tipped on the fly-leaf of volume I, is a letter from Maria Clemm to Fitz-Greeene Halleck: “Dear Sir: I am induced by a recollection of a former kindness, to intrude upon your time and patience. The publisher of my late son's (E. A. Poe) works only allow me ... as many copies as I choose to dispose of. But owing to precarious health and great delicacy of feeling I can only avail myself of this privilege through the kindness of others. Will you have the goodness to purchase of me a copy (consisting of three volumes) at $3.75 when I tell you I am a widow, childless, and this my only dependence, I hope this appeal will not be in vain. Please direct to me care of Wm. Strong, Milford, Conn. Respectfully, Maria Clemm” (quoted in the Wakeman catalogue of 1924, item 958.) A. Bardwell Heywood was the brother of Poe's much beloved Annie Richmond. At the Wakeman auction, this item was sold on April 29, 1924 for $240. At the same auction, a copy of volume I only, with a tipped letter from J. R. Lowell to I. Henry Hager, sold for $22.50. The letter by Lowell reads in part, “One cannot help feeling in sympathy with any defence of those who are dumb in death, & I think yours of Poe exceeedingly well done. But I am unwilling to sit in judgement, perhaps incompetent. I have a high opinion of Poe's genius — a very low one of his character. I am sure only of this, that it's worse than unwise to revive forgotten scandals ...” (quoted in the Wakeman catalogue of 1924, item 959.)
  • N. P. Willis (copy of volumes I and II). This is apparently a review copy of volumes I & II, inscribed upside down on the back end-paper: “Editors of the ‘Union’ from the Publisher with respects of Taylor & Maury. Jan. 15th/50.” It also contains a bookseller's ticket: “Taylor & Maury, Booksellers & Stationers ...” Volume II contains two ownership autographs by Poe's friend Nathaniel Parker Willis. According to the auction catalogue for the Frank J. Hogan sale, it apparently also carries “a few other interesting notations ...” The provenance is uncertain. Somehow it was acquired by Frank J. Hogan, and sold in 1945, perhaps to W. H. Koester. Its current whereabouts are uncertain, but it may be in the Koester Collection at the University of Texas at Austin.
  • Henry W. Longfellow. (Longfellow purchased several sets from Mrs. Clemm as an act of charity. “Mr. Longfellow (at my requst) has taken 5 copies and paid me for them!” (Mrs. Clemm to J. R. Lowell, March 9, 1850, quoted in Quinn, 1941, p. 461). All sets would have been of the first two volumes, the third not being printed until several months later.
  • Herman Melville. Melville presented to his wife a copy of the 4-volume set, presumably the 1859 edition, with the inscription: “To My Wife New Year's Day — 1861.” (This set is mentioned by Merton Sealts in “Melville's Reading: A Checklist of Books Owned and Borrowed,” Harvard Library Bulletin, III (Autumn 1949), 418.)
  • Ulysses S. Grant. Grant's set of the 4-volume 1864 edition is noted in ABC, 1971, p. 759, having sold for $55.
  • Joshua L. Chamberlain. Volume I of Chamberlain's set of the 3-volume 1853 edition is listed in the catalog of the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop (Chicago, IL), Fall 2008 (catalog 183), with a price of $3,850. (the book is inscribed as “J. Lawrence Chamberlain / Bangor 1854” on the front flyleaf.)



  • American Art Association Auction Catalogue, The Stephen H. Wakeman Collection of Books of Nineteenth Century American Writers, April 1924 (items 958 and 959).
  • Bayless, Joy, Rufus Wilmot Griswold: Poe's Literary Executor, Nashville, Tennesee: Vanderbilt University Press, 1943. (The edition of Poe's works is chiefly discussed in Chapter VIII: “Liteary Executor of Edgar Allan Poe,” pp. 161-200.)
  • 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. (Volume 7 is edited and completed by Virginia L. Smyers and Michael Winship. For Griswold's editions, see items 16158- 16161, pp. 123-125.)
  • Campbell, Killis, “The Poe-Griswold Controversy,” The Mind of Poe and Other Studies, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1933, pp. 63-98. (This article originally appeared in PMLA, Sept. 1919, 34:436-464.)
  • Derby, James Cephas, Fifty Years Among Authors, Books, and Publishers, New York: G. W. Carleton & Co., 1884 (reprinted in 1885 and 1886).
  • Gimbel, Colonel Richard, “Quoth the Raven: An Exhibition of the Work of Edgar Allan Poe,” The Yale University Library Gazette, vol. 33, No. 4, Paril 1959, pp. 138-189. (The contract between Mrs. Clemm and Griswold is item 123, on pages 180-181. It is reproduced in facsimile facing page 185. Other relevant items are 125, 126-127, 128, 131 and 133.)
  • Griswold, Rufus Wilmot, ed., The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe, New York: J. S. Redfield, 4 vols, 1850-1856.
  • Harrison, James A., “Editor's Preface,” in The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, New York: T. Y. Crowell, 1902. (vol. I, pp. vii-xx. The preface is dated “March 25, 1902.”) (Volume XVII contains letters by and about Poe. It was reprinted as volume II of The Life and Letters of Edgar Allan Poe, New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1903.)
  • Hatvary, George Egon, “The Whereabouts of Poe's ‘Fifty Suggestions ’,” Poe Studies, IV, No. 2, December 1971, p. 47.
  • Heartman, Charles F., “A Remarkable Addition to the Poe Census,” American Book Collector, vol. III, no. 4, April 1933, 3:246
  • Heartman, Charles F. and James R. Canny, A Bibliography of First Printings of the Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, 1943 (revised edition), pp. 129-133. (Reprinted, Millwood, New York: Kraus Reprint Co., 1977.)
  • O ’Neill, Edward H., “The Poe-Griswold-Harrison Texts of the ‘Marginalia ’,” American Literature, November 1943, 15:238-250.
  • Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc. Auction Catalogue, The Frank J. Hogan Library: Part One - American Authors, First Editions, Autograph Letters, Manuscripts, January 23 and 24, 1945 (items 584 and 585). (The only significant information here is the description of item 584, which includes the volume with N. P. Willis ’ autographs.)
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, volume I: Poems (1969); volumes II & III: Tales and Sketches (1978), Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
  • Miller, John Carl, Building Poe Biography, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1977.
  • Moldenhauer, Joseph J., “Mabbott's Poe and the Question of Copy-Texts,” Poe Studies, XI, no. 2, December 1978, pp. 41-46. (Moldenhauer questions T. O. Mabbott's reliance on Griswold's versions of Poe's works as his chief source for a definitive text.)
  • Pollin, Burton R., “Introduction: Marginalia,” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe; volume 2: The Brevities, New York: Gordian Press, 1985, pp. xv-xxii.
  • Pollin, Burton R., “The Living Writers of America:  A Manuscript by Edgar Allan Poe,” Studies in the American Renaissance 1991, Charlottesville, Virginia: The University Press of Virginia, 1991, pp. 151-211.
  • Pollin, Burton R., “A Comprehensive Bibliography of Editions and Translations of Arthur Gordon Pym,”  ATQ (American Transcendental Quarterly ), Winter 1978, pp. 93- 110. (Pollin lists several printings of the Griswold edition on page 106, items 2 and 4.)
  • Quinn, Arthur Hobson, Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography, New York: D. Appleton-Century Company, 1941.
  • Savoye, Jeffrey A., “The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe: Poe's Legacy and Griswold's Authority,” Edgar Allan Poe Review, Spring 2019, 20:1-26
  • Tane, Susan Jaffe and Gabriel Mckee, Evermore: The Persistence of Edgar Allan Poe, New York: The Golier Club, 2014, items 63 and 29, also items 64-67.
  • Thompson, John Ruben, The Genius and Character of Edgar Allan Poe, privately printed, 1929. (Edited and arranged by James H. Whitty and James H. Rindfleisch.)
  • Southeby Auction Catalogue, The Library of H. Bradley Martin: Highly Important American and Children's Literature, New York, January 30 and 31, 1990, item 2213.
  • Woodberry, George E. (assigned as writer of this anonymous review by Killis Campbell), The Nation, December 4, 1902, p. 445-447.
  • Woodberry, George E. and Edmund Clarence Stedman, “General Preface,” The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, Chicago: Stone and Kimball, 1894-1895 (reprinted by New York: The Colonial Company, 1903 and Charles Scribners's Sons, 1920).



[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Editions - Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe (1850-1856)