Edgar Allan Poe — “The Oval Portrait”





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Reading and Reference Texts:

Reading copy:

  • “The Oval Portrait” — reading copy


Historical Texts:

Manuscripts and Authorized Printings:

  • Text-01 — “Life in Death” — 1842, no original manuscript or fragments are known to exist (but this version is presumably recorded in Text-02)
  • Text-02 — “Life in Death” — April 1842 — Graham’s Magazine — (Mabbott text A)
  • Text-03 — “The Oval Portrait” — 1842 — TGAPP (manuscript of title only) — (The tale is listed, under its new title, in Poe’s handwritten table of contents, but the text itself no longer survives. It was probably a modified version of the printed text from Graham’s Magazine, and is presumably recorded, with perhaps a few additional changes made in proof, in Text-04)
  • Text-04 — “The Oval Portrait” — April 26, 1845 — Broadway Journal — (Mabbott text B) (For Griswold’s 1850 reprinting of this text, see the entry below, under reprints.)



  • “The Oval Portrait” — May 1, 1845 — Morning News (New York)  (This reprint from Text-04 was first noted by Claude Richard, p. 54)
  • “The Oval Portrait” — May 10, 1845 — Weekly News (New York)  (This reprint from Text-04 was first noted by Tanselle, p. 252)
  • “The Oval Portrait” — July 9, 1845 — Albany Patriot (Albany, NY) (back page) (The newspaper is noted as being strongly abolitionist)
  • The Oval Portrait” — 1850 — WORKS — Griswold reprints Text-04  (Mabbott text C)  (This is Mabbott’s copy-text)
  • “The Oval Portrait” — May 5, 1865 — Columbia Phoenix (Columbia, SC) (the story begins on the front page)
  • “The Oval Portrait” — 1867 — Prose Tales of Edgar Allan Poe, first series (New York: W. J. Widdleton), pp. 366-369 (This collection is extracted from the 1850-1856 edition of Poe’s Works. It was reprinted several times.)
  • The Oval Portrait” — 1874 — Works of Edgar A. Poe, edited by J. H. Ingram, vol. 1, pp. 279-283 (Ingram reprints the Griswold text, but restores the first paragraph from Graham’s Magazine, apparenty unaware that Poe himself dropped it in the Broadway Journal) (This collection was subsequently reprinted in various forms)
  • “The Oval Portait” — 1893 — The Encore Reciter; Humorous, Serious and Dramatic Selections, compiled and edited by F. E. Marshall Steele (London and New York: Frederick Warne and Co.), pp. 303-304 (noted at the end as by Edgar Allan Poe. Also includes four other tales by Poe.)
  • “The Oval Portrait” — January 1954 — Malcom’s Magazine — (a pulp magazine featurning tales of murder, mystery and detection)


Scholarly and Noteworthy Reprints:

  • The Oval Portrait” — 1894-1895 — The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 1: Tales, eds. E. C. Stedman and G. E. Woodberry, Chicago: Stone and Kimball (1:169-173)
  • The Oval Portrait” — 1902 — The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 4: Tales III, ed. J. A. Harrison, New York: T. Y. Crowell (4:245-249, and 4:316-319)
  • Life in Death (The Oval Portrait)” — 1978 — The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 2: Tales & Sketches I, ed. T. O. Mabbott, Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (2:659-667)
  • “The Oval Portrait” — 1984 — Edgar Allan Poe: Poetry and Tales, ed. Patrick F. Quinn (New York: Library of America), pp. 481-484


Comparative and Study Texts:

Instream Comparative and Study Texts:


Associated Material and Special Versions:

Miscellaneous Texts and Related Items:

  • “Le portrait ovale” — (French translation by William Little Hughes)
    • “Le portrait ovale” — March 6, 1856 — L‘Ami de la Maison  (with an illustration by Auguste Rocinet.)
    • “Le portrait ovale” — June 12, 1856 — Le Mousquetaire
    • “Le portrait ovale” — 1885 — Oeuvres Choisies d‘Edgar Pöe, Paris: A. Hennuyer
  • “Le portrait ovale” — (French translation by Charles Baudelaire)
    • “Le portrait ovale” — January 28, 1855 — Le Pays
    • “Le portrait ovale” — 1857 — Nouvelles histoires par Edgar Poe, Paris: Michel Lévy frères
  • “[The Oval Portrait]” — 1868 — Phantastiske Fortaellinger [Fantastic Tales] (Copenhagen)  (Danish translation by Robert Watt, noted by Anderson, p. 15)
  • “Het Ovale Portret” — about 1930 — Fantastische Vertellingen van Edgar Allan Poe, Haarlem: H. D. Tjeenk Willink & Zoon (Dutch translation by Machiel Elias Barentz, with elaborate illustrations by Albert Hahn, somewhat reminiscent of those by Harry Clarke)
  • “The Oval Portrait” — 2008 — Audio book (unabridged), read by Chris Aruffo



  • Anderson, Carl L., Poe in Northlight: The Scandanavian Response to His Life and Work, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1973.
  • Cobb, Palmer, “The Influence of E. A. T. Hoffman on the Tales of Edgar Allan Poe,” Studies in Philology, 1908, 3:1-104
  • Dowell, Richard W., “The Ironic History of Poe’s ‘Life in Death’: A Literary Skeleton in the Closet,” American Literature (January 1971), 42:478-486.
  • Gross, Seymour, “Poe’s Revision of ‘The Oval Portrait’,” Modern Language Notes (January 1959), 74:16-20.
  • 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, ed., The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (Vols 2-3 Tales and Sketches), Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1978.
  • Richard, Claude, “Poe and ‘Young America’,” Studies in Bibliography (1968), 21:25-58.
  • Savoye, Jeffrey A., “Tintoretto and ‘The Oval Portrait’,” Edgar Allan Poe Review vol. 14, no. 2 (Autumn 2013), 233-234 (suggests a source for Poe’s story in “The Duke and Duchess of Medecis,” Athenaeum: Journal of English and Foreign Literature, Science and the Fine Arts [London], no. 252, August 25, 1832, pp. 547-548)
  • Tansell, G. Thomas, “Unrecorded Early Reprintings of Two Poe Tales,” Publications of the Bibliographical Society of America (2nd Quarter, 1962), 54:252.
  • Thompson, Gary Richard, “Dramatic Irony in ‘The Oval Portrait’: A Reconsideration of Poe’s Revisions,” English Language Notes (December 1968), 6:107-114.
  • Wyllie, John Cooke, “A List of the Texts of Poe’s Tales,” Humanistic Studies in Honor of John Calvin Metcalf, Charlottesville: University of Virginia, 1941, pp. 322-338.


[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Tales - The Oval Portrait