Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. Killis Campbell), “Main Facts in the Life of Poe,” The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, Ginn and Company, 1917, pp. xi-xxvii


[page xi:]



Edgar Allan Poe was born at Boston on January 19, 1809.(1) His father, David Poe, Jr., was a native of Baltimore; his mother, whose maiden name was Elizabeth Arnold, was born in England, but came to America in youth.(2) There were two other children: William Henry, born in 1807, and Rosalie MacKenzie, born in 1810.(3) Poe’s parents were both actors, his mother displaying larger gifts than his father, though neither one attained to distinction. Their acting was confined to the American cities along [page xii:] the Atlantic coast, from Portland to Savannah.(1) Poe’s mother died in Richmond on December 8, 1811. His father probably died in the same year, though neither the time nor the place of his death is known with certainty.(2)

Shortly after the death of his mother, young Edgar was adopted by John Allan, a well-to-do merchant of Richmond.(3) Tradition has it that he was petted and spoiled by Mr. Allan and his wife, and it is well established that he was devoted to Mrs. Allan. Preserved among the manuscript treasures of the Library of Congress at Washington are the business papers and office books of Mr. Allan’s firm, Ellis & Allan, and in these we catch from time to time glimpses of the child as he grew into youth and manhood.(4) In the summer of 1812, we learn from one of the letters in this collection, he went with Mrs. Allan to a health resort in the mountains of Virginia, where he impressed a Baltimore guest who saw him there as being both a “good” and a “pretty” boy; from another letter we learn that he suffered from an attack [page xiii:] of whooping-cough in the spring and summer of 1813; and a third letter reveals the fact that he was put to school with the Richmond schoolmaster, William Ewing, at some time in the winter or spring of 1814-1815.(1)

In June, 1815, Mr. and Mrs. Allan, with Edgar and a sister of Mrs. Allan, sailed for England, where Mr. Allan set up a branch of his business house. The family went first after their arrival at Liverpool on a trip into Scotland for a visit with Mr. Allan’s relatives there; but early in October they settled down in London; and there they remained for the next five years. During most of the first year (possibly the first two years) of his stay in London, Poe attended a school kept by the Misses Dubourg at 146 Sloane Street, Chelsea;(2) but his last three years were spent at the academy of the Reverend John Bransby at Stoke Newington, whose establishment he professes to describe in his story William Wilson.(3) That his progress at the latter school was satisfactory is attested both by “Dr.” Bransby, who recalled him in after years as a “quick and clever boy “ (though “ spoilt ”),(4) and by Mr. Allan, who in 1818 wrote to his partner in Richmond: “Edgar is a fine boy and reads Latin pretty sharply,” and a year later described him as being “a good scholar” and as “both able and willing to receive instruction.”(5)

In 1819 the London branch of the firm of Ellis & Allan found itself unable to meet its business engagements, and the following summer Mr. Allan returned to Virginia. Poe now attended for several years an academy in Richmond conducted, first, by Joseph H. Clarke and later by William Burke; and it is said that in 1825 he studied for some time under private tutors.(6) One of his chief diversions at this time was swimming. On one occasion, so he [page xiv:] boastingly declared in a letter to the Southern Literary Messenger in 1835,(1) he swam a distance of six miles in the James River “in a hot June sun” and “against one of the strongest tides ever known in the river.” There is record also of his connection with a youthful military company;(2) of his having taken active part in certain school-boy theatrical performances;(3) and of his winning a prize in declamation.(4) It is said that he was also gifted at drawing, and that he was extremely fond of music.(5) It appears that he had few intimate friends at this time, but there is abundant testimony that he was a leader in his classes.

But at some time after his return to Richmond — perhaps as early as 1823 — an estrangement had begun to grow up between Poe and his foster-father, who was at times overindulgent, at times stern and unforgiving; and in November, 1824, we find Mr. Allan complaining in a letter to Poe’s brother, William Henry, who was living with his relatives in Baltimore, that Edgar had lost all sense of gratitude to him and had become “quite miserable, sulky, and illtempered to all the Family.”(6) How far Poe was to blame for this [page xv:] estrangement we shall probably never know; though in later years he admitted(1) that he had been guilty of “many follies” in youth.

The sympathy that was lacking at home was supplied in part in the homes of certain of his neighbors. According to a story which has probably been exaggerated in some of its details, he found a sympathetic friend in Mrs. Jane Stith Stanard, the mother of one of his school-fellows, to whom he became deeply devoted and of whom he made a confidante in his boyish ambitions and sorrows. This lady died in 1824, but the poet remained loyal to her memory throughout his career.(2) Sympathy of another sort he found at the home of another neighbor. In 1825 or earlier he had become acquainted with Miss Sarah Elmira Royster, the daughter of a friend of the Allan family; the two fell desperately in love, and before Poe left for the University of Virginia, in February, 1826, he had obtained her promise to marry him. But his letters to Miss Royster fell into the hands of her father, who destroyed them; and she, assuming that his love had grown cold, soon engaged herself to another.(3)

Poe’s career at the University of Virginia was confined to a single year. The University then opened its doors in February, and ended the session in December. Poe matriculated on February 14, 1826. He stood well in his classes, as is established by the official records for the year, excelling in French and Latin;(4) [page xvi:] and he appears to have enjoyed the respect of all his instructors. By his own confession, however, he drank to excess while at Charlottesville — though his statement that he “led a very dissipated life”(1) is no doubt an exaggeration — and he gambled, and he ultimately fell into debt. Before the end of the year he had contracted gambling debts of upwards of two thousand dollars.(2) These, or most of them, Mr. Allan refused to pay, and at the same time it was decreed that Poe should not continue his studies at the University. On his return to Richmond Poe was employed for some time in the office of Mr. Allan. Here no doubt he was restive and unhappy, the breach between his guardian and himself having been farther widened; and after several weeks he determined to leave Richmond, and to go out into the world and shift for himself. He left Richmond towards the end of March (1827),(5) intending, so he later declared, to go abroad; 4 but when we next hear of him, two months later, he is in Boston, where, on May 26, 1827, he enlisted in the army of the United States, adopting the name “Edgar A. Perry.”(6) He was assigned to a [page xvii:] company then stationed at Fort Independence. During the summer he brought out, at Boston, his first volume of poems, Tamerlane and Other Poems. On October 31 of the same year he was transferred with his company to Fort Moultrie, in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina; and a year later he was transferred to Fortress Monroe, Virginia. On January 1, 1829, he was made sergeant-major.

[[This is a point where there are minor differences in the above paragraph]]

Poe’s whereabouts presently became known to his foster-parents, and steps were taken, probably on the initiative of Mrs. Allan, to effect his release from the army and to procure for him a cadetship at West Point. Mrs. Allan died on February 28, 1829, but a discharge for the young sergeant-major was not forthcoming until April 15; and something less than a year later, through the activities of Mr. Allan and certain influential friends of the family, Poe was formally appointed a cadet to West Point.(1) During the year intervening between his leaving the army and his admission to West Point, he made his home in Baltimore; but he went on occasional visits to Richmond.(2) In December, 1829, he published at Baltimore a second volume of poems.

In July, 1830, Poe was enrolled at West Point. His record at the Academy was at first creditable, his standing at the end of the year being third in French and seventeenth in mathematics in a class of eighty-seven. Mr. Allan, however, had in October married a second time; and Poe, becoming finally convinced that he could no longer rely on him for substantial support, and believing, as he afterwards wrote, that “the army does not [page xviii:] suit a poor man,”(1) resolved, with the beginning of the new year or earlier, to leave the Academy. He is said to have asked permission of his foster-father to resign,(2) but, this being refused, he deliberately set about getting himself dismissed. He neglected his studies, absented himself from roll calls, and otherwise set the authorities at defiance, with the result that he was courtmartialed; and on March 6, 1831, he was officially expelled from the Academy.(3)

Before leaving West Point, he made arrangements for the sale among his fellow-cadets of a third volume of his poems, dedicated to them. This volume was published at New York in the spring of 1831.

The next four years Poe spent mainly in Baltimore, though it is impossible to follow his career during this period with complete certainty. He was in Baltimore in May, 1831, shortly after his expulsion from West Point;(4) during the first nine months of 1832, according to the testimony of one of his associates, Lambert A. Wilmer, he was living with his aunt, Mrs. Clemm, in Baltimore;(5) and he was living in Baltimore in the summer and fall of 1833 and in 1834, as is established by the letters and journals of John Pendleton Kennedy. At some time during these years he is said to have gone on a brief trip to Europe;(6) he also figured in love-scrapes with a Miss Mary Devereaux(7) and (in [page xix:] 1831 or perhaps earlier) with his cousin, Miss Elizabeth Herring.(1) His chief means of support were perhaps supplied him by Mr. Allan(2) and by Miss Valentine, sister of the first Mrs. Allan; but Mr. Allan died in March, 1834, leaving him nothing. Poe is said to have visited Richmond in 1831 and again in 1834 shortly before Mr. Allan’s death, but to have been refused an audience with his foster-father on both occasions.(3)

[[This is a point where there are minor differences in the above paragraph]]

His main literary work during these years (1831-1834) must have been in the field of the short story, and he also labored on his play, Politian. In the Philadelphia Saturday Courier between January and December, 1832, he published five of his tales, having originally submitted them, it appears, in competition for a prize offered by that paper. In October, 1833, he was awarded a prize of a hundred dollars by a Baltimore paper, the Saturday Morning Visiter, for his story MS. Found in a Bottle. And in the following year one of his stories, The Visionary, was published in Godey’s Lady’s Book.

Through the influence of John Pendleton Kennedy, who had been one of the judges in the Baltimore Visiter’s short-story contest, and who befriended the poet in many ways during his darker years in Baltimore, Poe was now brought to the attention of the proprietor of the Southern Literary Messenger, T. W. White, and in that magazine he at once began to find a market for his wares. He supplied the Messenger with numerous critical notices and tales, and also republished there the tales that had originally appeared in the Saturday Courier, the Visiter, and Godey’s. In the summer of 1835 Mr. White invited Poe to come to Richmond to assist him in the editing of the magazine, and this offer he gladly accepted.

Before going to Richmond Poe had fallen in love with his child-cousin, Virginia Clemm, and he determined to make her his wife, in spite of opposition on the part of some of her family. [page xx:] Accordingly, he obtained on September 22, 1835, a license for marriage, and it has been held that a wedding actually took place at this time;(1) the fact, however, that Poe and his cousin were publicly married in Richmond eight months later (May 16, 1836) and the absence of any reference to an earlier marriage in his letters or other contemporary documents tend to discredit this view.(2)

Poe’s active connection with the Messenger lasted from July, 1835, until the end of January, 1837; and it seems that he was again connected with this magazine, in a minor capacity, in the fall of 1837.(3) His position was at first merely that of assistant, but in December, 1835, he was promoted to be editor-in-chief. Under his direction the Messenger became one of the leading magazines of the day, and its subscription list, if we may believe a statement of Poe’s,(4) grew from a few hundred to more than five thousand. But from the beginning there had been bickerings between Mr. White and his young editor, owing to the latter’s indulgence in drink, and it was probably on this account that the poet eventually gave up his place on the Messenger.

From Richmond Poe went, in the late winter or spring of 1837, to New York City, where he hoped to find employment with the newly established New York Review, edited by Francis Lister Hawks.(5) In October, 1837, as already noted, he was again in Richmond. The first half of the year 1838 was spent in New York; and there in July he published his Crusoe-like story, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, a part of which had appeared [page xxi:] in the Southern Literary Messenger in 1837. At some time in the summer of 1838 he moved to Philadelphia.

Poe remained in Philadelphia six years (1838-1844). He was engaged first as assistant editor of Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine (July, 1839, to June, 1840), and later as editor of Graham’s Magazine (April, 1841, to May, 1842); and he was also connected, more or less closely, in 1843, with a weekly, the Saturday Museum. He wrote during these years the best of his stories (of which a two-volume collection was published at Philadelphia late in 1839) and some of the best of his poems and reviews.(1) He also spent some time in hack work, one product of which was a book on conchology, The Conchologist’s First-Book (1839), a compilation which subjected him to a charge of plagiarism — an accusation for which, unhappily, there appears to have been some basis in fact.(2) During his residence in Philadelphia Poe also made several attempts, but without success, to start a magazine of his own; and in 1843 he endeavored, with like result, to obtain a government position. He also lectured — and in this he was more successful — in Baltimore and Philadelphia. But it is plain that his income at this time was small despite the variety of shifts to which he resorted in an effort to make ends meet. Toward the close of his stay in Philadelphia, moreover, his wife’s health began to fail. In 1841 she had broken a blood vessel in singing, consumption had set in, and she was to remain [page xxii:] an invalid until her death in 1847. To make matters worse, Poe had resumed some of his bad habits of former years, resorting now (it seems) to opium as well as to other stimulants;(1) and by reason of these and other irregularities he had lost many of his friends in Philadelphia.

Accordingly, with a view to finding a more congenial environment and also in the hope, doubtless, of finding relief for his wife, Poe moved again, in April, 1844, to New York. He secured a place, in the fall of 1844, as critic and subeditor of the New York Evening Mirror, Willis’s paper; and the following February he resigned this position to become co-editor with C. F. Briggs of the Broadway Journal, a weekly that had been established at the beginning of the year. In October he became sole editor and proprietor of the Broadway; but he had borrowed freely to this end, and was unable to take up his note when it fell due, with the result that the Broadway died with the first week of the new year.(2) In June, 1845, he published a new volume of tales; and in October he brought out a new collection of his poems, The Raven and Other Poems. The publication of The Raven in the preceding January had won for him widespread attention, in both England and America. [page xxiii:]

At some time in the spring or early summer of 1846, Poe moved with his family to Fordham, a village then several miles out of New York City, but now a part of the Bronx. For several weeks during the first half of this year he was very ill.(1) During the summer and autumn he published in Godey’s Lady’s Book a series of papers, entitled The Literati, on the chief living writers of New York. Some of these were extremely caustic, and they stirred up for him a host of enemies. Among them was Thomas Dunn English, who in June published in the New York Telegraph a violent attack on him,(2) which was copied in the New York Mirror. To this he replied in kind, and at the same time brought suit against the Mirror for libel. The suit was settled in Poe’s favor the following February, damages of several hundred dollars being assessed against the Mirror. Shortly after moving to Fordham, Poe figured in another unhappy episode. In March, 1845, he had met the poetess Mrs. Frances Sargent Osgood, and — with the approval, it appears, of his wife — had paid her many attentions during the following year, addressing to her complimentary verses and openly coquetting with her at social gatherings in New York City. In June, 1846, however, one of Mrs. Osgood’s [page xxiv:] acquaintances, Mrs. E. F. Ellet, either through jealousy or because of honest misgivings as to the propriety of Poe’s behavior, set afloat certain scandalous rumors about the two, and, these reaching Mrs. Osgood, she commissioned two of her friends, Miss Margaret Fuller and Miss Anne Lynch, to interview the poet and request the return of the letters that she had written him. And with this their association came abruptly to an end.(1)

On January 30, 1847, Mrs. -Poe died. Following her death the poet was again extremely ill for several months. He was nursed back to health by Mrs. Shew, who had nursed Mrs. Poe in her last illness.

During the year 1847 Poe spent some time on a critical treatise, variously referred to as “The American Parnassus,” “A Critical History of American Literature,” “Living Writers of America,” and “The Authors of America in Prose and Verse,” which was mentioned in a contemporary journal in March as in preparation for the press,(2) but was never published as such;(3) and in this year and the first half of the next, he was also actively engaged on his so-called prose poem, Eureka, a metaphysical treatise on the universe, which was published in book form in the summer of 1848. To this period belongs also his friendship for Mrs. Shew, with whom he had become infatuated after the death of his wife.(4) In July, 1848, Poe went to Richmond for a stay of several weeks, in an effort to procure funds for a magazine, The Stylus, which he hoped to establish, but there fell again into the [page xxv:] excesses that had characterized his final year in Philadelphia. It is plain that both his mental and his physical condition were now at a low ebb.

The same year he met Mrs. Sarah Helen Whitman, the Rhode Island poetess, and after a brief period of ardent love-making was rewarded by a promise of marriage on the condition that he pledge himself to abstain thereafter from intoxicating liquors. On the second evening, however, before that set for the wedding, Mrs. Whitman was informed that Poe had already broken his pledge, and she accordingly pronounced their engagement at an end. The poet returned at once to New York, and the two did not meet again; though Mrs. Whitman was the stanchest of Poe’s defenders after his death.(1)

The opening months of 1849 appear to have brought improvement both in the health and in the spirits of the poet, and during the first half of the year he wrote several of the best of his poems, including Annabel Lee and For Annie, the latter inspired by his friendship for Mrs. Richmond, of Lowell, who, with Mrs. Lewis of Brooklyn, now furnished the womanly sympathy that his nature constantly demanded after his wife’s death.(2) On the last day of June he left New York for a trip to Richmond. The following week he spent in Philadelphia suffering from a serious illness, brought on by drink,(3) and he did not arrive at Richmond until about the middle of July. In Richmond he went again on a spree, which was followed, as in Philadelphia, by illness and delirium; but on his recovery he signed a temperance pledge, and his habits are said to have been unexceptionable during the [page xxvi:] remainder of his stay in Virginia. He lectured in Richmond and in Norfolk during this visit, the returns from at least one of his lectures being very gratifying to him; and he also visited and became engaged, for a second time, to his early inamorata, Sarah Elmira Royster, now the widow Shelton and well-to-do. Plans were made for their wedding, and early on the morning of September 27 he started for the North to attend to certain business matters and to bring Mrs. Clemm to Richmond preparatory to celebrating the marriage.

He got only so far as Baltimore, however. At what time he reached Baltimore or what occurred after his arrival there, is not known. According to one story, which seems not unplausible, he met while waiting for his train for Philadelphia an old West Point friend, who induced him to take a glass of wine with him at an inn. According to another story, long current, he ultimately fell into the hands of some political gangsters, who drugged him and then used him as a “repeater” in an election being held in Baltimore on October 3. This much at least is clear: that he became intoxicated, and that he suffered, in consequence, an attack similar to the one that had well-nigh brought him to his death in Philadelphia in the preceding July.(1) On October 3 he was found unconscious in a saloon that had lately been used as a polling-place, and his friend Dr. J. E. Snodgrass being [page xxvii:] advised of his condition, he was removed to a local hospital. There, on Sunday, October 7, 1849, he died. He was buried on the following day in the churchyard of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Baltimore.


[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page xi:]

1 The chief biographies of Poe are those of George E. Woodberry (Edgar Allan Poe, published at Boston in 1885, and in a revised edition in two volumes in 1909) and John H. Ingram (Life and Letters of Edgar Allan Poe, first published in two volumes at London in 1880, and later in a single volume, but enlarged, in 1886). Among other biographies of Poe are those of James A. Harrison (the first volume of the “Virginia Poe,” New York, 1902), William F. Gill (The Life of Edgar Allan Poe, New York, 1877), Mrs. S. A. Weiss (The Home Life of Poe, New York, 1907), and John Macy (Edgar Allan Poe, Boston, 1907), and the prefatory memoirs of Rufus W. Griswold (The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, New York, 1850, III, pp. xxi-lv), E. L. Didier (Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, New York, 1877, pp. 19-129), R. H. Stoddard (The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, New York [1884], I, pp. 1-200), and J. H. Whitty (The Complete Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, Boston, 1911, pp. xix-lxxxvi). The seventeenth volume of the “Virginia Poe” contains a collection of Poe’s letters.

2 The date of David Poe’s birth is given in the records of the First Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, as July 18, 1784. Mrs. Poe was born in 1786 or 1787; see the article of Professor C. A. Smith in the Philadelphia Public Ledger for May 25, 1913. She was first married in 1802 to C. D. Hopkins, who died in October, 1805. Her marriage to David Poe took place late in 1805 or early in 1806 (see Woodberry, I, pp. 7, 9, 361).

3 William Henry Poe died in 1831 (the date of his burial is given in the records of the First Presbyterian Church at Baltimore as August 2, 1831) Rosalie Poe died July 22, 1874.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page xii:]

1 See Woodberry, I, pp. 358 f.

2 From a contemporary notice of Mrs. Poe, quoted by Woodberry (I, pp. 363 f.), it would appear that David Poe died in Norfolk in the summer of 1811; but Poe wrote to a cousin, William Poe, of Georgia, in 1835, that his father’s death occurred after the death of his mother (Letters, p. 15).

[first printing]

3 There is no evidence that he was ever legally adopted by Mr. Allan, though Poe’s relatives in Baltimore apparently understood that this was Mr. Allan’s intention, and Poe did not abandon the hope of succeeding to all, or a part, of Mr. Allan’s fortune until after the latter’s second marriage in 1830. On his death, however, in 1834, he left Poe nothing. See on this point the early letter of his aunt, Mrs. Herring, in the Sewanee Review, XX, pp. 202 f.; his letter to Kennedy written in November, 1834 (Woodberry, I, p. 104); and the reminiscences of T. H. Ellis in the Richmond (Virginia) Standard of May 7, 1881. There is also a tradition that the Allans originally had no idea of adopting Poe, but only meant to take care of him till relatives in Baltimore could be reached; see the article of C. M. Graves in the Century Magazine, XLV, pp. 909 f., and Mrs. Weiss, pp. 6, 10.

[second printing]

3 There is no evidence that he was ever legally adopted by Mr. Allan, though Poe’s relatives in Baltimore apparently understood that this was Mr. Allan’s intention, and Poe did not abandon the hope of succeeding to all, or a part, of Mr. Allan’s fortune until after the latter’s second marriage in 1830. On his death, however, in 1834, he left Poe nothing. See on this point the early letter of his aunt, Mrs. Herring, in the Sewanee Review, XX, pp. 202 f.; his letter to Kennedy written in November, 1834 (Woodberry, I, p. 104); and the reminiscences of T. H. Ellis in the Richmond (Virginia) Standard of May 7, 1881

[first printing]

4 See the articles by the present editor in Modern Language Notes for April, 1910 (XXV, pp. 127 f.), and the Sewanee Review for April, 1912 (XX, pp. 201 f.).

[second printing]

4 See the articles by the present editor in Modern Language Notes for April, 1910 (XXV, pp. 127 f.), and the Sewanee Review for April, 1912 (XX, pp. 201 f.). And see also the Edgar Allan Poe Letters till now Unpublished, ed. Mrs. Mary Newton Stanard (Philadelphia, 1925), a volume containing twenty-eight letters written by Poe to John Allan. These letters, the originals of which are preserved in the Valentine Museum, in Richmond, Virginia, are elsewhere referred to as the Valentine Letters.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page xiii:]

1 Sewanee Review, XX, pp. 202-203.

2 See the Dial for February 17, 1916, and for May 11, 1916.

3 See the London Athenæum for October 19, 1878, p. 496.

4 Ibid., p. 497.

5 Sewanee Review, XX, pp. 205-206.

6 Woodberry, I, p. 29; Mrs. Weiss, p. 45.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page xiv:]

1. I, p. 468.

2 Calendar of Virginia State Papers, X, p. 518.

3 Harrison, I, pp. 28 f.

4 T. H. Ellis, Richmond Standard, May 7, 1881.

5 Appleton’s Journal, May, 1878 (new series, IV, p. 429).

6 This letter, inasmuch as it furnishes important testimony as to the relations of Allan and his ward at this time and has escaped the biographers of Poe, I give here in its entirety (save for the omission of a single sentence).

Richmond Novr 1. 1824.

Dear Henry,

I have just seen your letter of the 25th ult. to Edgar and am much afflicted, that he has not written you. He has had little else to do for me he does nothing & seems quite miserable, sulky, and ill-tempered to all the Family. How we have acted to produce this is beyond my conception why I have put up so long with his conduct is little less wonderful. The boy possesses not a Spark of affection for us not a particle of gratitude for all my care and kindness towards him. I have given a much superior Education than ever I received myself. If Rosalie has to relie [[rely]] on any affection from him God in his mercy preserve her — I fear his associates have led him to adopt a line of thinking & acting very contrary to what he possessed when in England. I feel proudly the difference between your principles & his & hence my desire to Stand as I ought to do in your Estimation. Had I done my duty as faithfully to my God as I have to Edgar, then had Death come when he will had no terrors for me, but I must end this with a devout wish that God may yet bless him & you & that [page xv:] Sucess [[Success]] may crown all your endeavors & between you your poor Sister Rosalie may not suffer.... Believe me Dear Henry we take an affectionate interest in your destinies and our United Prayers will be that the God of Heaven will bless & protect you. rely on him my Brave & excellent Boy who is willing & ready to save to the uttermost. May he keep you in Danger preserve you always is the prayer of your Friend & Servant

John Allan

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page xv:]

1 In a letter to J. P. Kennedy (Woodberry, I, p. 104).

2 See, for further particulars, the notes on the earlier lines To Helen.

3 For further details see the notes on Tamerlane; see also Miss Royster’s reminiscences in Appleton’s Journal, May, 1878, and the article of E. M. Alfriend, “Unpublished Recollections of Edgar Allan Poe,” in the Literary Era, August, 1901.

4 See Ingram, p. 37; Harrison, I, p. 61; and Professor C. W. Kent’s article “Poe’s Student Days at the University of Virginia” in the New York Bookman for July, 1901 (also in the Bookman for January, 1917).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page xvi:]

[first printing]

1 Harrison, I, p. 345. Griswold’s story (“Memoir,” p. xxv) that he was expelled from the University is entirely without foundation.

[second printing]

1 Harrison, I, p. 345. Griswold’s story (“Memoir,” p. xxv) that he was expelled from the University is entirely without foundation. See also the Valentine Letters, pp. 27 f., 253 f.

2 T. H. Ellis, the Richmond Standard, May 7, 1881.

[first printing]

3 The date of his leaving may be conjecturally placed between March 20 and March 25; see the letters of Edward Crump and John Allan published in the Sewanee Review, XX, pp. 209 f.

[second printing]

3 Valentine Letters, p. 52. For a pathetic account of his desperate circumstances at this time see his letter of March 20, 1827, to John Allan (ibid., pp. 63 f.).

4 For several romantic stories as to Poe’s movements at this time — for most of which he was himself responsible — see Harrison, I, p. 345; Ingram, pp. 53 f.; Woodberry, I, pp. 72 f.; and Whitty, pp. xxix f. According to one of these accounts, Poe went to Russia; according to another he went to France, where he fought a duel, in which he was seriously wounded, and where he later wrote a novel dealing with his adventures; according to a third account he went to some Mediterranean port, and thence into Africa; and according to yet another account, his trip lasted only a few months but included a water trip to Norfolk and thence to an English seaport, followed by a trip to London in search of literary employment, and thence to Paris on the same errand, then back to London, and thence to the coast and oversea to Boston.

[first printing]

5 The fact of Poe’s connection with the army was first fully established by Professor George E. Woodberry in an article, “ Poe’s Legendary Years,” in the Atlantic Monthly, December, 1884 (LIV, pp. 814-828).

[second printing]

5 Valentine Letters, p. 52.

6 The fact of Poe’s connection with the army was first fully established by Professor George E. Woodberry in an article, “ Poe’s Legendary Years,” in the Atlantic Monthly, December, 1884 (LIV, pp. 814-828), though it had been hinted at, in a garbled account, by Griswold (III, p. xxvii) in 1850. .

[[There are changes in the footnotes above in the second printing, and in the text of the paragraphs on the page]]

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page xvii:]

1 Mr. Allan’s letter to the Secretary of War in support of his application for a cadetship (see Woodberry, I, pp. 52-53) serves as a cruel reminder of his want of sympathy and of consideration for his foster-child.

2 From a letter written to John Neal on December 29, 1829 (see Woodberry, I, p. 369), we know that Poe was in Baltimore at that time, and the office books of Charles Ellis (Mr. Allan had withdrawn from the firm of Ellis & Allan in 1824) show that he was in Richmond on January 8, 1830, and again on January 28 (perhaps he had remained in Richmond during the interim), and still again on May 12, on which date John Allan is charged with a bill of $14.97 for blankets and handkerchiefs purchased by Poe.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page xviii:]

1 Harrison, I, p. 345.

[first printing]

2 Didier, p. 44.

[second printing]

2 Valentine Letters, pp. 257, 267.

3 Particulars as to the trial are given by Ingram, pp. 73-74.

4 See his letter to William Gwynn (Woodberry, I, p. 88).

5 See his “Recollections of Edgar A. Poe,” Baltimore Daily Commercial, May 23, 1866. That the period of Poe’s earlier association with Wilmer in Baltimore was not 1833 (as Professor Woodberry conjectures, I, p. 92), but 1832, is established by contemporary references in the Baltimore newspapers to a suit between Wilmer and the proprietors of the Baltimore Saturday Morning Visiter instituted in August, 1832.

[first printing]

6 See the reminiscences of F. W. Thomas (Whitty, p. xxxiv).

[second printing]

6 Valentine Letters, pp. 287 f.

7 Cf. the article, “Poe’s Mary,” by Augustus van Cleef, in Harper’s Monthly Magazine, March, 1889 (LXXVIII, pp. 634 f.); and see also the Dial for February 17, 1916.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page xix:]

1 See the notes on Elizabeth.

2 Woodberry, I, p. 104; Mrs. Weiss, p. 62.

3 Mrs. Weiss, pp. 57 f.; Woodberry, I, pp. 95 f.

[second printing adds]

4 See the Dial for February 17, 1916, p. 145.

5 J. C. French in Modern Language Notes, XXXIII, pp. 257 f.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page xx:]

1 Didier, p. 58.

2 Most of Poe’s biographers, it is proper to state, incline to accept the theory of an early marriage; but the evidence in the case is far from conclusive.

3 See a letter of his to Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale bearing the date of October 20, 1837 (the New York Nation, July 1, 1909).

4 Letters, pp. 177-178; Griswold, III, p. 26.

5 Apparently he published in this magazine only one article, a lengthy review of Stephens’s Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia, etc. (reprinted by Harrison, X, pp. 1-25).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page xxi:]

1 Among his critical papers are his notice of Hawthorne’s Twice-Told Tales (Graham’s Magazine, May, 1842, reprinted by Harrison, XI, pp. 104 f.), in which occurs his famous statement concerning the significance of the short story; and his well-known review of Longfellow’s Ballads and Other Poems (Graham’s Magazine, March and April, 1842, reprinted by Harrison, XI, pp.64f.).

2 Woodberry, I, pp. 194-197; Harrison, I, pp. 146-147; Letters, pp. 277-278. In Lowell’s sketch of the poet (see Harrison, I, p. 382), Poe is also credited with “a digest and translation of Lemmonnier’s Natural History” also published in Philadelphia in 1839. This was probably the volume entitled A Synopsis of Natural History, etc., said on its title-page to have been translated by Thomas Wyatt, which was reviewed in Burton’s Magazine in July, 1839 (V, p. 61).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page xxii:]

1 Poe made no secret of his weakness for drink (see Letters, pp. 134 f., 242, 287-288). This fault, however, has been much exaggerated. He was not an habitual drinker, but he drank at intervals — sometimes of several years — throughout his career. There is testimony from numerous sources that a small quantity of liquor was sufficient to intoxicate him. His spells of intoxication, during which he was largely irresponsible — a circumstance to which is to be traced much of the animosity towards him felt by some contemporaries — were usually followed by illness. See, on the general subject, Woodberry, I, pp. 257 f. and passim, Ingram, p. 422 and passim, Harrison, I, pp. 123-124, and for the latest discussion of the matter a paper by P. A. Bruce, the South Atlantic Quarterly, January, 1912 (XI, pp. 3-21); see also an article by Appleton Morgan in Munsey’s Magazine, July, 1897 (XVII, pp. 522-530), and the treatise of Émile Lauvrière, Edgar Poe, sa vie et son œuvre, Paris, 1904, passim.

On Poe’s indulgence in opium see Woodberry, II, pp. 428 f.

2 See the account of Thomas Dunn English in the New York Independent, October 15, 1896 (XLVIII, p. 1382).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page xxiii:]

1 Poe makes mysterious references to an attack of insanity at this time (Letters, pp. 242, 287); and Mrs. Shew declared that “he had lesion of one side of the brain and ... could not bear stimulants or tonics without producing insanity” (Ingram, p. 330). His friend, Dr. J. E. Snodgrass, in the Baltimore Saturday Visiter of April 18, 1846, makes mention of a rumor that he was laboring “ under mental derangement” at that time and that it had been “determined to consign him to the Insane Retreat at Utica.” This plan, however, — if, indeed, it was ever seriously considered, — was not carried into effect, though it should be added that there is no contemporary evidence as to his whereabouts during February and March, save a letter of Mrs. M. E. Hewitt’s, of April 14, 1846, in which she states that he had been away from New York for some time and mentions a visit to Baltimore. A highly exaggerated discursus on Poe’s alleged infirmity, by F. G. Fairfield, under the title “A Mad Man of Letters,” appeared in Scribner’s Monthly in October, 1875 (X, pp. 690-699). See also Wilmer in the Baltimore Daily Commercial, May 23, 1866; Mrs. Weiss, p. 173; and Burr’s article in the Nineteenth Century, February, 1852.

2 This paper, together with Poe’s reply and English’s rejoinder, is reproduced in the Letters, pp. 234 f.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page xxiv:]

1 See, for further particulars, Woodberry, II, pp. 178 f., and the notes on the lines To F —— .

2 The Home Journal of March 20, 1847. This work is referred to in Hirst’s sketch of Poe in the Saturday Museum, February 25, 1843 I and there was also a notice of it in the Philadelphia Saturday Courier of July 25, 1846, in which it was stated that it was “to be issued in book form simultaneously [in America] and in England, — with autographs.”

3 See the New York Nation, December 4, 1902 (LXXV, pp. 445-447).

4 The fullest account of his relations with Mrs. Shew is that given by Ingram, pp. 322 f.; see also the notes on the lines To M. L. S——.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page xxv:]

1 See, for further particulars as to Poe’s relations with Mrs. Whitman, the notes on the second To Helen. The fullest treatment of the subject is that of Miss Caroline Ticknor in her volume, Poe’s Helen, New York, 1916.

2 For further particulars as to his friendship with Mrs. Richmond and Mrs. Lewis, see the notes on For Annie and Enigma, respectively.

3 See the accounts given by Sartain (The Reminiscences of a Very Old Man, pp. 205 f.); and cf. Burr, the Nineteenth Century, February, 1852 (reproduced in part by Woodberry, II, pp. 311 f.).

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

1 This has been denied by some; see A Defense of Edgar Allan Poe, by John J. Moran, M. D., the physician who attended Poe at the time of his death, and the article of E. Spencer in the New York Herald of March 27, 1881 (quoted in part by Harrison, I, pp. 328 f.). But circumstantial evidence is entirely in favor of the contrary view. And there is also direct evidence in favor of the darker view; see, in particular, an earlier statement by Dr. Moran in a letter to Mrs. Clemm (Woodberry, II, pp. 345 f.); an article by Dr. J. E. Snodgrass, “The Facts of Poe’s Death and Burial,” in Beadle’s Monthly, March, 1867 (III, pp. 283 f.); and the statement of his lifelong friend, J. P. Kennedy, that he died “from the effects of a debauch” (Woodberry, II, p. 349). A letter of his cousin, Neilson Poe, to Rufus W. Griswold (published in part by Woodberry, II, p. 447) also tends to confirm this view.







[S:0 - KCP, 1917] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Main Facts in the Life of Poe (K. Campbell, 1917)