Rejected — “Intemperance”



That this essay is by a person named “Poe” has been evident for some time, but that the author was “Edgar Allan Poe” was always a matter of deep question and little substance. Consequently, the essay, as it was known in the shorter forms, has remained mostly at the fringes of the canon, a curious but dubious item. The 1839 publication, the one that was know for some time, carries only the last name of the author. This form was first noted in 1941 by Ernest J. Wessen in the Bookseller’s Catalogue, Midland Notes, No. 17 and reprinted by T. O. Mabbott in “ ‘Poe’ on Intemperance,” Notes & Queries, CLXXXIII, July 1942, pp. 34-35. Mabbott remained neutral on the subject, noting that it could also have been something of a joke. Heartman and Canny, in their 1943 Bibligraphy of the First Printings of Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, also note an 1840 edition of The Southern First Class Book, pp. 48-49. A later printing of this little essay, in Sterling’s Southern Fifth Reader (1866), expressly gives the name as “Edgar A. Poe,” but without any real authority for the attribution. The 1866 printing was first noted by Annie Edward Barcus in “Poe on Intemperance,” Notes & Queries, CLX, June 6, 1931, p. 405.

The fuller form of the essay, with the correct attibution to Washington Poe, rather than his more famous cousin Edgar, was discovered by Ton Fafianie, and communicated to the Poe Society in an e-mail dated January 14, 2021. With this new information, the essay, in any of its forms, may confidently be removed from the Poe canon.


Reading and Reference Texts:

Reading copy:

  • “Intemperance” — reading copy


Historical Texts:

Manuscripts and Authorized Printings:

  • Text-01 — “Intemperance” — 1839 — no original manuscript or fragments are known to exist (but this version is presumably recorded in Text-02)
  • Text-02 — “Intemperance” — July 19, 1832 — Georgia Messenger (Macon, GA), vol. X, no. 20, p. 2 (full text) (properly assigned to Washington Poe)
  • Text-03 — “Intemperance” — 1839 — Southern First Class Book (excerpted, and attributed only to “Poe”



  • “Intemperance” — 1840 — Southern First Class Book (this reprint is noted by H&C)
  • Intemperance” — 1866 — Sterling’s Southern Fifth Reader
  • “Intemperance” — 1934 — Bibliography of the Writings of Edgar A. Poe, vol. 2: Commentary, John Robertson, San Francisco: Edwin & Robert Grabhorn (facsimile of the 1866 printing, between 2:274-275)


Scholarly and Noteworthy Reprints:

  • “Intemperance” — July 1942 — Notes & Queries, CLXXXIII, July 1942, pp. 34-35 (the text is given in an article by T. O. Mabbott called “ ‘Poe’ on Intemperance.”)


Comparative and Study Texts:

Instream Comparative and Study Texts:

  • None


Associated Material and Special Versions:

Miscellaneous Texts and Related Items:

  • None



  • Barcus, Annie Edward, “Poe on Intemperance,” Notes & Queries, CLX, June 6, 1931, p. 405. (This item notes the 1866 printing)
  • Heartman, Charles F. and James R. Canny, A Bibliography of First Printings of the Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, Hattiesburg, MS: The Book Farm, 1943.
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, “ ‘Poe’ on Intemperance,” Notes & Queries, CLXXXIII, July 1942, pp. 34-35.
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, ed., The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (Vols 2-3 Tales and Sketches), Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1978.
  • Wessen, Ernest J., Midland Notes (bookseller‘s catalog), 1941, No. 17 (This item first notes the 1839 publication)


[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Misc - Intemperance