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Text: Edgar Allan Poe, Literary America, [mostly] unpublished manuscript, 1848

[Title Page:]



Some Honest Opinions about our Autorial Merits and Demerits


Occasional Words of Personality.


     If I have in any point receded from what is commonly received, it
hath been for the purpose of proceeding melius and not in aliud.
Lord Bacon.

   Truth, peradventure, by force, may for a time be trodden down, but
never, by any means whatsoever, can it be trodden out.

                                                 Lord Coke. .

Prefaced with a Critical and Biographical Sketch of the Author


James Russell Lowell and P. P. Cooke.


[Internal Title Page:]



[There is no table of contents in the original.]
....... ....               Contents


Biographical Sketch of the Author (by Phillip P. Cooke)  (This article was ultimately printed in the Southern Literary Messenger, January 1848)

Critical Sketch of the Author (by James R. Lowell)  (This slight revision of the article originally printed in Graham's Magazine was ultimately incorporated into The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe, 1850)


Frances S. Osgood [[incomplete]]   (This version was printed in SLM, August 1849 and substantially printed in WORKS.)  (Two pages are marked 11 and 12)

Lewis Gaylord Clarke [[Clark]]  [[incomplete]] (There are three fragments of this manuscript, two in the Berg collection and one in a private collection. One small fragment is missing from the manuscript. This review begins on the back of part of the manuscript about Mrs. Osgood. This version was not used by Griswold.)

Elizabeth Frieze Ellet  (This fragment survives on the back of a part of the manuscript about Lewis G. Clark in the Berg Collection.)

John Neal  (Neither the manuscript nor text for this entry has survived, but a note on the manuscript about Laughton Osborn states: "Before Benjamin — after Neal." The note was written in pencil, but is erased or very faded. No item on Park Benjamin or John Neal appears in "The Literati" as printed by Griswold, although there is some discussion about Neal in the entry for Laughton Osborn.)

Laughton Osborn [[incomplete]]     (This version was not used in Godey's or WORKS)   (pages 75-81)

Thomas Dunn Brown [[English]]     (This version was used in WORKS)  (pages 81-84)

Christopher Pease Cranch.  (pages 84-87)

Park Benjamin   (Neither the manuscript nor text for this entry has survived, but see John Neal, above.)

Henry Cary   (pages 92-93)  (This manuscript is currently owned by the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin)

James Lawson   (page 93) (This review begins at the end of the manuscript about Henry Cary, above. This manuscript is currently owned by the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin)

Richard Adams Locke  (pages 94-99) [[incomplete]] (this version was not used in Godey's or WORKS)

Mary E. Hewitt    (This version was used in WORKS, with some omissions. One long omission is recorded in sale catalogue of John Spoor, 1939, item 682.)

George Bush    (This version was not used in Godey's or WORKS. Some of the material apparently added after Godey's was reused in "Marginalia.")

Charles F. Briggs   (The version in WORKS differs from that used in Godey's. A manuscript may be presumed, but T. O. Mabbott noted that "a brief interpolation is suspected in the paper on Briggs.")

S. Anna Lewis (This text was printed in the Democratic Review for August 1848)  (some manuscript fragments also survive)


Poe prepared this manuscript for publication in 1848, but abandoned it, for reasons which are uncertain. It survives as a substantial collection of notes and fragments, with some material apparently clipped by R. W. Griswold and given out as souvenirs to visitors and friends.

On the manuscript, Poe's name on the title page and the lines beneath it are given in a circular fashion, with the ends angled slightly upwards. On the internal title page, the words "LITERARY AMERICA" appear in the middle of a full sheet. A photograph of the cover page was published by Burton R. Pollin, "The Living Writers of America: A Manuscript by Edgar Allan Poe," Studies in the American Renaissance, 1991, Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia, 1991, pp.151-211. No one can be certain of the size of the original manuscript. Some of the surviving sheets bear page numbers as high as 93.

The two notices of Poe by Cooke and Lowell were both eventually published. Cooke's notice was printed in the Southern Literary Messenger for January 1848, pp. 34-38. Poe requested Cooke to write it on April 16, 1846, and Cooke replied on August 4, 1846, agreeing to the assignment "with entire pleasure."  The notice by Lowell was apparently a minor revision of his article on Poe from Graham's Magazine for February 1845, pp. 49-53. It may have been essentially the same form as used by Griswold in 1850 for WORKS, the version used here. A copy of the 1845 article, with two unspecified changes made by Lowell, is known but currently unlocated. It is signed on the first page "J. R. Lowell" and dated "Elmwood 1847." These pages were sold at the auctions of A. Edward Newton in 1941 and John F. Fleming in 1988. At the Newton sale, it was misleading characterized as "proof sheets."

[S:1 - Works, 1850] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Editions - Literary America (1848)