Text: James A. Harrison, “Editor’s Preface [Introduction],” Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, Vol. 01: Biography (1902), 1:vii-xx


[page vii, unnumbered:]



THE present edition of Poe is based upon the poet’s own statement of what he deemed fundamental in any reissue of his works: “I am naturally anxious that what I have written should circulate as I wrote it, if it circulate at all.”

This pregnant sentence — from the Preface to the 1845 edition of the Poems — has been constantly kept in mind by the editor during the preparation of this work, and no pains have been spared to apply it practically.

After a thorough examination of all the existing editions of Poe’s works, the editor became convinced that no satisfactory text of the poet’s writings could be established without direct study of the original sources in which these writings first and last appeared. Existing editions conflicted in so many points that no course was left except to reject them all — beginning with Griswold, whom all had more or less faithfully followed — and extract a new and absolutely authentic text from the magazines, periodicals, and books of tales and poems which Poe himself had edited or to which he had contributed. Having laid down this canon at the very start, the editor proceeded in the following detail: — [page viii:]


The chronological order of the tales being established, each tale was made the subject of a separate and prolonged study in its successive appearances in magazine, periodical or volume form, the variants were carefully noted, and that form of the text was selected which had, directly or indirectly, the sanction of Poe himself.

Thus, for the great bulk of the tales, the “Broadway Journal” form, with Poe’s MS. annotations, and the form corrected in Poe’s handwriting, as found in the Lorimer Graham copy of the edition of 1845, were adopted as the final form of the text. In two or three instances only — in the case of “The Balloon Hoax” and “The Gold-Bug” — the editor has used the Griswold version, because the file of the “New York Sun,” in which the former appeared, was missing from the “Sun” office and could not be consulted, and “ The Dollar Newspaper,” in which “The Gold-Bug” appeared, could not be found. — Though these were the texts adopted, all the republications of separate stories running through the “Southern Literary Messenger,” “Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine,” “Graham’s” and “Godey’s” magazines, and other sources, were separately studied, and the variants set down in the abundant Notes which Dr. Stewart and the editor have added to Volumes II., III., IV., V., and VI., of this edition. Poe’s orthography, punctuation, capitalization, and paragraphing have been restored, only obvious misprints being corrected and spelling of words in foreign languages being given in their rectified form.

The divergences, therefore, between this and the [page ix:] Griswold text will be immediately explicable: no liberties have been taken with Poe; he has been allowed for the first time to speak absolutely for himself. Discrepancies, where they occur, as they do occur frequently in spelling, are due to the fluctuating systems of orthography prevalent between 1834 and 1849. Whether this orthography is due to Poe or to his printer, cannot be determined; but the proofs at any rate of the “Broadway Journal,” of which he was virtually editor almost from the start, and of the volumes of “Arthur Gordon Pym,” of the Tales of 1840, and of those of 1845, must have passed under his immediate eye and received his final corrections. The editor has also collated the original MS. of “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” belonging to the Drexel Institute, and prints from Poe’s own unpublished MS. his “Folio Club,” evidently the long-lost or overlooked introduction to his “Tales of the Folio Club,” — a fragment, but a striking fragment.


Each poem of the fortyeight has, in similar manner, been made the subject of separate study, historical examination, and comparison: all the facts connected with each have been massed together; and each separate “state” as revealed by magazine or book publication, has been noted, the variants set down, and the results collected in abundant Notes. No results as given by other editions were accepted on their own merits: a critical examination will show a large number of important difi’erences. Poe’s poems have been edited so often that one would have supposed there was little robm for novelty here; the novelty, however, [page x:] of the present edition consists not only in restoring Poe absolutely to himself as he left himself, emended and corrected in the Lorimer Graham copy of his poems (once his own), which is the main foundation of our text, but in the minutiae of the work, in Dr. Kent’s editorial Introduction and in the Notes. Valuable light has been thrown upon some of the poems from Poe’s unpublished MSS. in the possession of Mrs. Wm. M. Griswold.


In the realm of criticism the present edition may be said to offer a “Poe” altogether “new.” It challenges comparison with other editions, in the sure confidence of its belief that never before has the real Poe — the critical Poe — been presented to the public.

Of six volumes of Criticism here presented — Early Criticism, Maturer Criticism, and Later Criticism — fully three and half — nearly four — entire volumes are new. Volumes VIII. and IX. have as their textual basis, the original articles faithfully reproduced from the “Southern Literary Messenger,” from May, 1835, to January, 1837 inclusive. Only fragments of these hundreds of pages of new matter have hitherto seen the light of print since their appearance in the thirties; yet they are as interesting as any of Poe’s criticisms, showing as they do the formative period of his art and the precocity of his critical genius.

Volumes X. and XI., embracing the Middle Period of Poe’s critical activity, from 1837 to 1844, abound in novelties not hitherto reprinted, from “Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine,” “Graham’s,” “Godey’s,” and other sources. To instance Volume XI., by way of [page xi:] illustration: not only are a large number of the reviews in this volume entirely new, but the old familiar reviews appear with new faces, — that is to say, as Poe left them, with his titles unmutilated, and just as they were printed in the magazines to which they were contributed. Poe’s views of Longfellow, Hawthorne, Bulwer, and Griswold, are for the first time “straightened out,” presented in the order of their evolution (for they changed from time to time), and accurately reprinted. The text is the original article in every case but one — the second Griswold paper, which Mr. W. F. Gill has courteously permitted the editor to reprint from his Biography.

The attribution of unsigned criticisms to Poe in Volumes VIII. and IX. has been based upon the most careful and minute study of all the evidence, external and internal, bearing upon the subject. The discovery of Poe’s letter to the Richmond “Compiler,” enables the student at once to fix Poe’s responsibility for the reviews in the “Southern Literary Messenger,” running from December, 1835, to August, 1836.

In this letter he mentions the number of these reviews (between ninety and a hundred), names the subjects of many of them, and describes their style, whether severe or lenient (see Introduction to Volume VIII.). From about May to December, 1835, Poe had been White’s editorial assistant on the “Messenget,” and mentions by title in his letters to White, Kennedy, and Tucker, a number of these reviews. The reviews themselves, apart from stylistic evidence, contain numerous cross-references to other reviews by the “editor” or the “writer,” tending to establish Poe’s authorship; the attribution to Poe by Griswold [page xii:] of the longer and more important notices, establishes beyond a peradventure his authorship of the reviews of Irving, Drake-Halleck, Bird, Walsh, Cockton, etc.; his correspondence mentions as his own those ofSimms, Kennedy, Beverley Tucker, Mrs. Sigourney, Anthon; he reproduces, later, in the “Broadway Journal,” almost word for word, the reviews of “Philothea” and Drake-Halleck; and in the number for January, 1837 (Poe’s final number as editor), he names the six reviews of his authorship in that number.

For Volumes X. and XI. (“Maturer Criticism”) a similar chain of evidence exists: first, Griswold’s attributions to Poe of the longer and more important reviews disputed now by no one; second, Poe’s letter to Burton (see Biography), in which, as in the “Compiler” letter, he exactly recalls and enumerates the number of pages he had contributed to “Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine’ during his twelve months’ connection with it, giving the number of pages for each month; third, the editor’s minute and careful study of the columns of “Burton’s,” with this letter in hand.

When “Burton’s Magazine” passed into Graham’s hands and combined with “The Casket” to form the newly established “Graham’s,” in 1840, Poe went along with it as its editor; and here again we have the testimony of Griswold (who succeeded Poe in the editorial chair in 1842), as to Poe’s authorship of important reviews, the numerous references to Poe’s contributions found in the editorial columns of “Graham’s,” Graham’s own account of Poe’s work for him, and the references in Poe’s correspondence to his review work.

The volumes of “Later Criticism” (1845-49) [page xiii:] XII. and XIII., are derived from two sources: 1) from the “Broadway Journal;” 2) from “Godey’s” and “Graham’s” magazines, and from the “Southern Literary Messenger.’’ The volumes of the “ Broadway Journal” used and studied for its reviews belonged to Poe himself and have his “P.” or his “Poe” in autograph overagainst his contributions; about these, therefore, there can be absolutely no doubt. Poe’s later contributions (after 1845) to “Graham’s,” “Godey’s,” and the “Southern Literary Messenger” were almost invariably signed with his name whose full commercial value he now thoroughly understood, as also did the magazines: he had become too valuable a factor in the literary world to write anonymously.

Little of Volume XII. has been seen hitherto by the public. After diligent inquiry at all the great libraries, the editor has been able to find but two copies of the rare periodical — the “Broadway Journal” — from which the contents of this volume have been largely drawn; but he has been particularly fortunate in gaining access to a third copy (as mentioned above), once owned by Poe himself, then given by him to Mrs. Sarah Helen Whitman, and by her to Mr. H. Ingram, of London, England. From him it passed to Thomas McKee, and was bought by Mr. F. R. Halsey at the McKee sale. It is through Mr. Halsey’s kindness that the editor has been able to utilize this copy.

There are persons who may consider the contributions to the “Broadway Journal” as trivial and unimportant, in the light of Poe’s more elaborate reviews: but in view of the revival of interest in everything that Poe said, wrote, or did, one may say of his remains as [page xiv:] Symonds said of the Fragments of Sappho — every one of them has a preciousness which the world is loth to lose.


Volumes XIV., XV., XVI. also abound in new features. For example, Poe’s well-known papers on “Autography” appeared in two divisions, years apart, the one a hoax, with hoax letters but genuine signatures attached, the other an article reproducing the signatures of the persons discussed, along with Poe’s comments on them. The first of these has never before been reprinted, and the second, in mutilated form only, after Griswold. They both appear intact in the present edition, from the original text, the first paper being printed from the “Southern Literary Messenger,” as photographed by the editor.

Again, the so-called “Cryptography” articles — Poe called them “A Few Words about Secret Writing” — appear in all editions, so far as we know, shorn of the three important “Supplements” and of the more difficult cryptograms which accompany the originals in “Graham’s.” Our edition reproduces the whole.

The “Palestine,” “Stonehenge,” “Fitz-Greene Halleck,” “Big Abel and Little Manhattan,” “Literary Small-Talk,” and “Street-Paving,” essays, and several of the lengthy considerations of the poetry of Mrs. Frances S. Osgood, Bryant, and others, are new.

The text of “The Literati” is that of “Godey’s Lady’s Book,” May - October, 1846, in which these famous criticisms first appeared. The reader will notice important differences between the present edition and the other editions containing “The Literati,” [page xv:] due to the fact that, dropping Griswold and all his followers, the present editor has pursued here, as elsewhere, the simple course of going back to “Godey” — to Poe himself — for his text, giving “The Literati of New York City” (for so the series was entitled) in the exact order in which Poe gave the papers, inserting the chronological divisions of the originals where they belong, and reproducing the text accurately. One singular result of this study has been to show that of the original thirty-eight papers printed by Poe, five found in the current editions are Griswold’s substitutes for Poe’s original articles. We have rejected the spurious papers and put Poe’s back in their places.

The “Eureka” is an accurate reproduction of Poe’s printed text of 1848; but the reader’s attention is called to the important body of Notes accompanying the text — Notes for the first time given in their entirety — from Bishop F. Hurst’s copy of the “Eureka” containing Poe’s MS. annotations. Our version of “Eureka” is thus practically new, for it contains not only the printed text exactly as Poe left it, but also all the minute MS. notes left by him on the margin of Bishop Hurst’s copy; also the “Addenda;” and Poe’s unpublished MSS. studies for the essay found in Mrs. W. M. Griswold’s MSS.

The fifteen sets of “Marginalia” sent by Poe to “The Southern Literary Messenger,” “Graham’s,” “Godey’s,” “The Democratic Review,” and “The American Museum,” have always appeared, hitherto, “edited,” mutilated, fragmentary, incomplete. The editor has searched them out in the original magazines, restored the omissions, and placed them in their true chronology. They will doubtless be found different [page xvi:] from other versions of “Marginalia,” but the reason is obvious: they could not be otherwise. Poe’s short reviews of Bayard Taylor and Wallace, printed under separate titles by Griswold, appeared originally among the “Marginalia,” and as “Marginalia” they now reappear.

In view of these statements, the editor does not believe that he has erroneously credited a single review to Poe among the hundreds of pages of hitherto unprinted matter collected in Volumes VIII.-XVI. of the present work.


Volume XVII. collects for the first time in book form the scattered correspondence that passed between Poe and his contemporaries, relatives,’ and friends. The great mass of this has been transcribed from the original MSS. in the Griswold Collection of the Boston Public Library.

Along with these letters many others have been introduced from the biographies of Poe by Messrs. Ingram and Gill, with the courteous permission of these gentlemen; from various magazines, newspapers, and periodicals, with the consent of their editors; from scattered volumes of biography; and from unpublished MS. collections of the Poe family in Baltimore and in the South courteously supplied the editor.

It is believed that Volume XVII. will be indispensable to readers, since it contains in epistolary form all the known esoteric part of Poe’s life not contamed in his autobiographic tales, poems, and criticisms. The real man, at home, abroad, in the intimacy of confession, engaged in the fashioning of his life, speaking from the heart to wife, mother-in law, [page xvii:] friend, associate, planning for the fixture, pouring out the eloquence of woe or of happiness, stands before us in these Letters as never before.

Included in the volume are the rare and little known Duyckinck, Snodgrass, Patterson, Ellis, and Poe-English collections of correspondence.


The new Biography of Poe in the present volume (I.) has its justification from a variety of points of view. Through inquiry and correspondence with Poe’s still surviving contemporaries, new light has been thrown on the poet’s early and middle life. Then, too, numerous important articles have appeared in the periodical press since 1884, the date of Professor Woodberry’s Life of Poe, and the substance of these appears in this volume.

Poe’s autobiographic “Memorandum,” found among Dr. R. W. Griswold’s papers, is printed from the original MS. through the courtesy of Mrs. Wm. M. Griswold. Its inaccuracies are brought out in an editorial Note.


The editor has been so generously assisted by scholars interested in his labors that the task of singling out individuals seems invidious; yet he cannot allow the opportunity to pass without placing in the front rank some at least of these co-workers, especially Dr. R. A. Stewart, Dr. C. W. Kent, Mr. Hamilton Wright Mabie, and Mrs. A. Harrison, all of whom in their various ways have contributed most essentially to this work.

Next to these come the names of authors of lives [page xviii:] or memorials of Poe who have generously permitted extracts from their works to be used in this edition: Messrs. H. Ingram, W. Fearing Gill, R. H. Stoddard, E. L. Didier, James Grant Wilson, and Miss S. S. Rice. Detailed acknowledgments to these authors will be found in their proper places.

To Miss Amelia F. Poe, Mrs. Wm. M. Griswold, Mr. F. R. Halsey, Mr. R. L. Traylor, Dr. B. B. Minor, Mrs. S. A. Weiss, Prof. E. B. Setzler, and Bishop F. Hurst most cordial thanks are given for the loan of invaluable MSS. or illustrative material, or for contributions to the work duly acknowledged in the various volumes. But for the cooperation of Miss Poe, Mrs. Griswold, Mr. Halsey and Mr. Traylor, this edition could not have included much new, important, and unused material.

An enterprise so large as this has necessarily involved collaboration with many editorial assistants: the Editor would therefore thankfully acknowledge the intelligent assistance rendered by Messrs. William Adams Slade, P. Kennedy, G. W. Powers, Walker McSpadden, N. H. Dole, Miss Kate Stephens, Miss Charlotte Porter, Miss Adele M. Smith, and Miss A. O’Gorman.

Of the many public institutions that have contributed of their wealth to these pages, the editor would particularly name and thank the authorities of the Boston Public Library, the Brown University Library, the New York Public Library, the Philadelphia Public Library, the New York Historical Library, the Drexel Institute, the Hallowell Library (Maine), and the Library of Congress.

Much valuable material in the present work is due to the courtesy of the editors of the “New York [page xix:] Herald,” the “Baltimore American,” the “Richmond [Va.] Standard,” “The Independent,” and “The Methodist Review.”

The Century Association of New York and the Caxton Club of Chicago have been exceedingly generous in permitting access to their stores of Poe material: Poe’s letters and Poe’s annotated copies of his own works.

Thanks are also due to the “Century Magazine,” Messrs. Charles Scribner’s Sons, Harper & Brothers, D. Appleton & Co., Houghton, Mifflin & Co., and Herbert S. Stone & Co. (the last for permission to quote from their edition of Poe’s Works published in 10 volumes).

The names of Dr. William Hand Browne, Mr. Charles Poindexter, Col. T. H. Ellis, Bishop Fitzgerald, Mrs. L. G. Mayo, Mr. Glenn, Dr. B. W. Green, Mr. B. Green, Mrs. W. Y. Dill, Mr. C. Hutchinson, Prof. G. E. Woodberry, Prof. C. F. Richardson, Mr. Herbert Senter (librarian of the Century Association), Mr. Edmund Clarence Stedman, Mr. F. W. Page, and Mr. Dix (editor of “The Home Journal”), are appreciatively mentioned elsewhere. The editor would in this place return them all, but especially to Mr. W. C. Ford, Mr. H. L. Koopman, Dr. S. Billings, Mr. John Thomson, and Dr. MacAlister, his earnest thanks for the interest and cooperation which they have so abundantly displayed.

Valuable illustrations or other materials are due to Miss Poe, Mr. W. R. Benjamin, Mr. C. H. Quarles, Capt. Dimmock, Mr. Daniel Bendann, the New York Historical Society, Miss C. F. Dailey, the Chevalier E. R. Reynolds, Dr. A. Crawford, Mr. R. L. Traylor, Prof. W. Le Conte Stevens, and Mr. M. P. Tilley. [page xx:]

It is finally due to the enlightened cooperation of the publishers that this large task has been brought successfully to an end; a task which, needless to say, would have remained unaccomplished but for their constant encouragement.


March 25, 1902.





[S:0 - CWEAP, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - Complete Works of E. A. Poe (Vol. 01 - Biography) (J. A. Harrison) (Preface/Introduction)