Text: Dwight R. Thomas, “A Note on the Chronology,” Poe in Philadelphia, 1838-1844 (1978), pp. 1-2


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A Note on the Chronology

Traditionally, Edgar Allan Poe is said to have moved from New York City to Philadelphia during “the summer of 1838,” but there are apparently no documents to support this dating. Poe had arrived in New York by February 28, 1837, and he was still in this city on May 27 of that year. On July 19, 1838, he was in Philadelphia, writing James Kirke Paulding, then Secretary of the Navy, to request a clerkship. Between June, 1837, and July, 1838, there is no precise evidence of his location. No items of his correspondence are known to survive, and no mention of him in the contemporary newspapers or in the correspondence of his acquaintances has been discovered. In all probability, Poe remained in New York until late 1837 or early 1838. In Gowans Catalogue of American Books, No. 28 (New York: William Gowans, 1870), p. 11, William Gowans, a New York bookseller, left a reminiscence in which he stated that he had shared the same residence with Poe for “eight months, or more.” On March 4, 1843, the Philadelphia Saturday Museum published a biographical sketch of Poe by his friend Henry B. Hirst. Poe certainly furnished most of the information in this biography, and he may have helped with its composition. According to the Museum, p. 1, col. 2, he left New York for Philadelphia “At the end of a year.” ­[page 2:]

This chronology commences with the verifiable dates for the year 1837, because the chronological boundary between Poe's sojourn in New York and his longer residence in Philadelphia is still in question, and because several events occurring in this year have a bearing on the Philadelphia period. It concludes with Poe's departure from the city on April 6, 1844. All entries in the chronology are supported by documentary evidence. In the case of a document which is entered as a separate item in the chronology, complete bibliographical information is given only under the date of the document. For example, on March 8, 1841, Joseph Evans Snodgrass wrote Poe, stating that he had heard slanderous rumors spread by William E. Burton regarding his correspondent's drinking. Snodgrass’ letter has not been located; this entry is established by Poe's April 1, 1841, reply. The complete reference for this significant document is given under the date of April 1, 1841, when the letter itself is entered in the chronology. When it is cited elsewhere, it is identified as Poe's April 1, 1841, letter to Snodgrass. The location of any document identified by a date may be determined by consulting the chronology for the date given. Entries are dated as precisely as possible. The majority of them refer to a day, a month, and a year. Entries which refer only to a month are placed in the chronology before the first day of that month. For example, the publication of “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” dated as April, 1841, would appear before Poe's April 1, 1841, letter to Snodgrass. Entries which refer to a particular year are listed in the chronology before January of that year.





[S:0 - PIP, 1978] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - Poe in Philadelphia, 1838-1844 (D. R. Thomas) (A Note on the Chronology)