Text: Anonymous, "A Friend of Poe Talks," New York Commercial Advertiser (New York), June 18, 1899




In an interview in the Chicago “Times-Herald” Mrs. Minnie Phelps has this to say concerning Edgar Allan Poe:

“We all loved him — my father and brother, my mother and my two sisters. He was my brother's sponsor at baptism, he and Mrs. Clem [[Clemm]], although they were Protestant and my mother a Catholic. I can show you the record in our old Bible, as it was written there on that day.”

There it was, indeed, in the fine Italian hand of the period, but the boy's name was Edgar Albert, and Mrs. Phelps explained the change by saying that Poe himself substituted Albert for Allan, from a feeling that the uncle after whom he was named Allan had not treated him right, and that the name had brought him nothing but bad luck.

“He was never prejudiced without good reason,” continued Mrs. Phelps; “he was gentleness and generosity combined, but fate seemed to have a grudge against him. Even in death he was slandered. Nothing could make me believe that he did not die from a stroke of apoplexy, instead, as was currently believed, from a protracted spree. He was never a drunkard. I defy any proof that he was. But at that time wine was on every sideboard, and it was only considered hospitable to urge it upon guests. One small glass would excite Mr. Poe's brain almost to madness.

“I remember when we first moved to Fordham, N. Y., how Mrs. Clem [[Clemm]] asked my mother never to offer Poe — ‘darling Eddie,’ she called him — a drop of wine. A cup of tea or coffee excited that abnormal condition of mind in which he lived to exaltation. His moods were erratic without any stimulant. On one day he would romp with us children, and play ‘Dr. Busby,’ a game then in vogue, with the most charming and winsome manners, the next he would talk to my mother in a dreary, pensive mood, and we would be afraid of him.”

“I have been asked at different times if Poe was really as poor as he was said to be. At the time when we lived near the Poe cottage at Fordham, he was very poor, but his condition was never talked over bfore us children. I can remember carrying a basket many a time — my brother assisting — to Mrs. Clem [[Clemm]]. It would be very heavy, but we knew nothing of its contents, and our only real errand was to loiter at the cottage door in hopes of meeting our friend the poet. We though he was badly used because all the world did not recognize his genius and esteem it as we did.”



This item is taken from a clipping in the Mabbott Collection at the University of Iowa. The nature of the clipping makes it impossible to determine the page or other details. Mabbott states, in his “Annuals” of Poe that he was unable to determine her mainden name, which was apparently Mary Andre. Her mother, Aurelia Andre, provided recollections of Poe to the Chicago Times-Herald in 1893. One must, of course, take such late recollections with a grain of salt.


[S:0 - NYCA, 1897] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - A Friend of Poe Talks (Anonymous, 1897)