Prose Romances (1843)


This pamphlet was probably issued about July 20, 1843, as the earliest known advertisements are from the Philadelphia Public Ledger of that date. Another advertisement appears in Godey's Lady's Book for September of 1843 and a third in the New-York New Mirror for September 9, 1843.

The Prose Romances of Edgar A. Poe (1843)

The number of copies printed is uncertain. Only about 14 copies survive, 5 with the title page and rest in an incomplete state. Many of the original copies may have been destroyed by a fire which apparently consumed William Graham's offices at 98 Chestnut Street in 1845.

There is at least one known presentation copy: Poe to Francis J. Grund, “Francis J. Grund Esqre [/] with Mr Poe's respects [/] U. S. Hotel” (the last two lines being underlined with one single stroke each). Poe also appears to have sent a copy to Rufus W. Griswold on February 24, 1845. Poe's letter to Griswold states, “In the tale line I send you ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgues’ and ‘The Man that was Used Up’ ” coincidentally the two items included in this pamphlet. Poe's own copy seems not to have survived. The 1845 text for “Murders in the Rue Morgue” printed in Tales includes many of the changes first given in this version, along with numerous other changes presumably made by Poe in manuscript on the printed text, as was commonly his habit. His own copy, then, was quite possibly cut up, separated and used in preparation of the 1845 Tales.

(Francis J. Grund, who was the recipient of the only know surviving presentation copy, contributed a series in 1843 on “The History, Politics, Literature, and Manners of the Germans” to a periodical called the New World. The first of these letters appeared on Jan. 21, 1843, and the eighth on June 24, 1843.)

One of the earliest known advertisements, from the Public Ledger (Philadelphia, PA), July 20, 1843, p. 3, col. 1:


Just Published and for sale, Wholesale or Retail, by

   No. 98 CHESTNUT Street. 

Author of “THE GOLD-BUG,” “Gordon Pym,”
“Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque,” &c.
Each Number complete in itself.
NO. I,
Containing the
Price only 12 1/2 Cents.
All orders for the above work to be addressed to

No. 98 CHESTNUT Street. 

Two other notices appear in Philadelphia newspapers dated July 19, 1843.

The printer for the book was Edward G. Dorsey, at 12 Library Street. (His middle name may have been Greenbury or Greenberry, and he appears to have died about 1857.) Library Street no longer exists in modern Philadelphia. It was in the block between Chestnut and Walnut Streets, running between Fourth and Fifth Streets, right past the Philadelphia Library. It was absorbed into the Independence National Historic Park in 1959, although a driveway paved with cobblestones may mark its approximate location. Dorsey also printed the text for J. J. Audobon's folio edition of The Birds of America in 1840.



Bibliographic Data:

8vo (8 7/8 in x 5 3/4 in or 226mm x 144 mm, BAL gives 9 1/16 in x 5 13/16 in). Pages [9]- 48. Paper wrappers, described as “pale tan.”

Charles P. Everitt  (p. 14) describes this pamphlet as “an offprint from a magazine, made up as a salesmen's sample in an edition of possibly fifty or sixty, and the salesmen had not been able to get any orders.” It is clearly not an “offprint,” however, since the layout (a single column across the entire page) does not match that used in Graham's (in which the text is divided into two columns). It also contains a number of minor changes from the Graham's text, indicating that it was newly set in type, specifically for this edition. Everitt's speculation about the surviving copies being from salesmen's samples does not appear to be supported by any other documentation or bibliographical evidence. Although the edition does not seem to have sold well, it was reviewed and was presumably available for purchase through the normal channel of book sellers. In a brief note added to a 1968 facsimile edition, Thomas Ollive Mabbott comments that, “A good deal of nonsense has been printed about Prose Romances, largely by people who never saw a copy of the original” (p. vi).


Census of Copies:

This census is believed to record all known surviving copies of The Prose Romances by Edgar A. Poe. The provenance of each entry is established as authoritatively as possible, given the sketchy and often convoluted bits of information available. In nearly all cases, the chain of owners has gaps, especially among the early owners, whose names are generally known only if the owner left an inscription.

Copies with paper cover intact:

  • Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA (Wrappers)  The list of prior owners is as follows: 1. George D. Smith (discovered in 1890 in Boston, purchased for 15 cents); 2. Scribner's Bookstore (purchased for $60); 3. Frederick W. French, New York collector (purchased from Scribner's for $120); 4. F. R. Halsey (purchased in a sale of the French collection in April 1901 for $1,000); 5. Huntington Library (purchased in 1915). (It is assumed that George H. Sargent, quoted by J. T. Winterich, is mistaken in stating that J. P. Morgan bought this copy. Winterich claims that this copy was the earliest one to be discovered.)
  • Albert A. Berg Collection, New York Public Library, New York, NY (wrappers) (Berg-Young copy) The list of prior owners is as follows: 1. Dauber and Pine, New York book dealers (according to C. P. Everitt, pp. 13-14, it was discovered in 1926 in a large collection of pamphlets); 2. Owen D. Young (1874-1962), New York attorney (purchased around 1929 for $20,000-$25,000, apparently through Gertrude Hills, an associate of Dauber and Pine. According to C. P. Everitt, the price paid was $25,000); 3. Albert A. Berg (1872-1950), New York collector (Berg purchased Owen's entire library in 1941); 4. New York Public Library (donated by Berg and Young in 1941).
  • Joseph Regenstein Library, University of Chicago Library, Chicago, IL (rebound, with wrappers intact) (William H. Graham is noted as the publisher)
  • Unidentified Owner, a copy apparently newly discovered; sold by Christie's, December 14, 2000 (sale 9548, item 119) for $259,000. (The estimate had been listed as $120,000 - $180,000.)

Copies with damaged or missing covers:

  • Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, NY (front cover only)  (purchased by Morgan prior to 1929 for $3,800) The list of prior owners is as follows: 1. Unknown 2. Lewis Cole (according to C. P. Everitt, pp. 14-15, Cole sold his copy for $2 to a secondhand bookstore in New York, but was given another $625 after it was sold to Maier) 3. Frank J. Maier (purchased for $1250); 4. J. P. Morgan (purchased in a sale of the Maier collection, November 22, 1909 for $3,800, according to ABC, or $3,900, according to C. P. Everitt)
  • Library of Congress, Washington, DC (inscribed by Poe to Francis Joseph Grund) (front cover only) (Grund died on September 29, 1863. This copy entered the collection of the Library of Congress about 1877.)
  • Yale University Library, New Haven, CN (facsimile wrappers) (In his brief bibliographical note to the 1968 facsimile, Thomas Ollive Mabbott comment that this copy has “a made-up printed title page, giving George B. Zieber as the publisher,” but dismissing this with “I find no evidence that he ever published books” (p. vi). Mundell prints a letter from Donald Gallup, curator of the Collection of American Literature in the Yale University Library, stating that the book was a gift from Owen F. Aldis in 1910. The letter also states that the Yale copy bears the signature of A. M. Wetherbee “above the caption-title.” (Owen Franklin Aldis (1852-1925), presented by Aldis to Yale about November 24, 1911, acccording to the Yale Alumni Weekly of that date. A. M. Wetherbee may have been Alden M. Wetherbee (1830-1908), the postmaster of Warren, Maine, and active Mason and known as a collector of “oddities.”) (Mundell describes what appears to be a second copy of the book with the Zieber wrappers as having belonged to David Gage Joyce, and having been “sold at auction inlate 1973 to Lew Feldman for $20,000.” Mundell also cites an entry from a Hanzel auction of September 23-24, 1973, of the collection of D. G. Joyce, with the catalog referencing a page from William J. Campbell of Philadelphia, listing a copy of the book for sale in Feb. 1894, “with some newspaper clippings etc of Poe's poetry, for $250.” The catalog apparently also included a letter from James F. Drake stating that “the Zieber imprint preceeded the Graham.”)
  • J. K. Lilly Library, University of Indiana, Bloomington, IN (wrappers lost) 1. A bookdealer in Evanston, IL; 2. Frank Rosengren, Chicago bookseller (purchased as bound with other pamphlets); 3. Josiah Kirby Lilly (1893-1966) (purchased from Rosengren about on September 28, 1929 for $13,000, plus a commission of $500 to another dealer for bringing the book to Mr. Lilly's attention.)
  • Alderman Library, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA  (covers lost, bound in a sammelband) (The book was a gift from the prominent collector, Clifton Waller Barrett, about April 19, 1952.)
  • University of Texas (wrappers in facsimile) (not from the Koester collection as this is the one Poe title Koester never acquired. The University of Texas purchased this copy from Frederic Dannay in 1959. According to a letter from Dannay, reprinted by Mundell, he purchased the letter from a book seller named Feldman, who offered a copy for sale in 1954 for $6,000. Dannay was fairly confident, however, that the copy he purchased was not the same one, suggesting that Feldman had owned two copies.)
  • Private Collection (?) (formerly in the collection of H. Bradley Martin) (wrappers lost) The list of prior owners is as follows: 1. Grandfather of Aylsworth Brown; 2. Aylsworth Brown, Providence, RI; 3. Scribner's Book Store, New York (purchased from Mr. Brown by David A. Randall, for Scribner's, in January 1952, paid February 5, 1952, for $3,500, plus a 10% commision paid to New York bookdealers Dauber & Pine); 4. H. Bradley Martin (1906-1988), New York; 5. Current owner unknown, presumably a private collector (purchased at the Martin sale at Southeby's, January 30-31, 1990. The estimate is noted as $60,000/80,000 and the final sale price recorded as $60,500). (Mundell erroneously prints the name as “Aylesworth Brown.”)
  • Richard Gimbel Collection, Philadelphia Free Library, Philadelphia, PA (lacking covers) (About this copy, Mundell notes that “There are indications that at one time it was bound with other material.”)
  • Unidentified Owner, formerly in the collection of William Edwin Self, a producer and television executive in Los Angeles  (facsimile covers). (Christie's in New York sold the Wm. Self collection at auction, December 4, 2009, sale 9548, but this item was apparently not included. A number of items from Self's collection were sold directly to dealers, primarily less prominent material. It is possible that a private sale was arranged for this particular book, or it may have been retained by his family. Self died in 2010.)
  • Susan Jaffe Tane, private collector, New York (wrappers lost, bound in a sammelband) (It is possible that this is the copy mentioned by Mundell as having been sold at some time by A. W. S. Rosenbach, although it is usually stated that this copy only surfaced in 1992, when it was sold by the 19th Century Bookshop. This copy is noted as bound with other contemporary pamphlets.)
  • Swarthmore College (McCabe Rare Book Room), (facsimile wrappers) (formerly in the collection of William Edward Stockhausen) (Stockhausen to John F. Fleming, Inc. in 1974) (Stockhausen died on April 4, 1974, and his collection was sold at auction by Sotheby Parke Bernet, Inc.) (According to Mundell, this copy was originally “found in a volume of pamphlets by Edward Eberstat [[Eberstadt]] & Sons, New York booksellers, about 1940.” Based on this statement, this copy is presumably the one noted by Heartman & Canny as belonging to Edward Eberstadt of New York City (p. 79). The book was purchased by Donald S. Stralem, prior to 1962. It was purchased by William E. Stockhausen prior to August 20, 1969, apparently through the Seven Gables Bookshop, in New York. Purchased by Michael M. Rea, probably from the 1974 sale. Rea, who died in 1996, donated part of his library, including the Poe book, to Swarthmore College.)



  • Cannon, Carl L., American Book Collectors and Collecting from Colonial Times to the Present, New York: H. W. Wilson Co., 1941. (In particular, see the census of copies of Prose Romances, pp. 182-183)
  • Everitt, Charles P., The Adventures of a Treasurer Hunter: A Rare Bookman in Search of American History, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1952.
  • Hatvary, George Egon and Thomas Ollive Mabbott, “Introduction and Bibliography,” Edgar Allan Poe: Prose Romances, St. John's University Press, 1968. (A facsimile edition of the copy owned by the Library of Congress.)
  • Mundell, Elmore H., Jr., Poe's 1843 Murders in the Rue Morgue: A Census of Known Copies, Portage, IN: Compulsive Printer, 1974. (According to a note in the back of the book: “The Compulsive Printer made 15 copies of this completed in July, 1974.”)
  • 19th Century Bookshop sale Catalogue, The Poe Catalogue, Baltimore, 1992, p. 55. (Prose Romances is item 117. The price guide lists it only as “pl inqu. [please inquire].”)
  • Parma, V. Valta, “The Rare Book Collection of the Library of Congress,” Colophon, part 7, 1931. (Parma was the curator of rare books at the Library of Congress. His article includes a brief comment on the Grund copy of Prose Romances at the Library of Congress.)
  • Quoth the Raven: Selections from the Susan Jaffe Tane Edgar Allan Poe Collection, 1997, pp. 46-48.
  • Randall, David A., The J. K. Lilly Collection of Edgar Allan Poe: An Account of Its Formation, Indiana: The Lilly Library, 1964, pp. 10-15.
  • Randall, David A., Dukedom Large Enough: Reminscences of a Rare Book Dealer, New York: Random House, 1969, pp. 191-192. (The book includes a description of the discovery and purchase of the H. Bradley Martin copy.)
  • Southeby Auction Catalogue, The Library of H. Bradley Martin: Highly Important American and Children's Literature, New York, January 30 and 31, 1990, item 2204.
  • Winterich, John Tracy, Books and the Man, New York: Greenberg, 1929, p. 264.
  • Tane, Susan Jaffe and Gabriel Mckee, Evermore: The Persistence of Edgar Allan Poe, New York: The Golier Club, 2014, item 49.



[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Editions - Prose Romances (1843)