Edgar Allan Poe — “The Imp of the Perverse”





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Location - Under development.

Date - Under development.


Under development.


Reading and Reference Texts:

Reading copy:

  • “The Imp of the Perverse” — reading copy


Historical Texts:

Manuscripts and Authorized Printings:

  • Text-01 — “The Imp of the Perverse” — 1845 — (There are no known draft manuscripts or scratch notes reflecting the original effort of composition.)
  • Text-02 — “The Imp of the Perverse” — 1845
    • Text-02a — “The Imp of the Perverse” — 1845 — (Speculated faircopy manuscript prepared for publication and sent to the editors of Graham's Magazine. There is some question as to whether or not this manuscript has surived, but this version is presumably recorded in Text-02b. According to S. A. Cuneo, the manuscript had been saved by a typesetter and proofreader at Graham's named Alexander McKelly (1804-1879). The claim may have some validity as Kelly did save the manuscript for Poe's tale “The System of Doctor Tarr and Proffesor Fether,” which was also published in Graham's in 1845. The “Tarr and Fether” manuscript found its way into the famous collection of Stephen H. Wakeman, but what ultimately became of the “Imp” manuscript, assuming McKelly's claims to be true, is not known. McKelly claims to have given the “Imp” to an unnamed “local editor” in Upper Sandusky, OH some time around 1867. See the introductory note for the entry for a reprint in Urbana Union, June 14, 1871, below.)
    • Text-02b — “The Imp of the Perverse” — July 1845 — Graham's — (Mabbott text A)
  • Text-03 — “The Imp of the Perverse” — 1845
    • Text-03a — “The Imp of the Perverse” — mid-late 1845 — revised manuscript, no longer surviving, but presumably reflected in Text-03b. (The changes between Text-02b and Text-03b are so significant in both substance and number, that a new full manuscript is presumed. Poe may also have preferred not to attract attention to the fact that the story had just recently been printed in Graham's Magazine, which would be inherently obvious had he sent marked up copies of the printed pages, particularly as the story began on the first page of the magazine, directly under the prominent heading with the name of the periodical and the date of publication.)
    • Text-03b — “The Imp of the Perverse” — late 1845 — The May Flower for 1846 — (Mabbott text B)
  • Text-04 — “The Imp of the Perverse” — 1845
    • Text-04a — “The Imp of the Perverse” — 1846-1849 — (speculated copy of The May Flower for 1846 with manuscript changes made by Poe. This version has not survived, but is presumably represented by text-04b. Changes are too significant to suggest merely editorial meddling, although most are matters of punctuation, and Poe himself was not alive to make changes in proof. These changes are not so significant, however, that a new manuscript is indicated.)
    • Text-04b — “The Imp of the Perverse” — 1850 — WORKS — (Mabbott text C — This is Mabbott's copy-text)



  • “The Imp of the Perverse” — 1867 — Prose Tales of Edgar Allan Poe, first series (New York: W. J. Widdleton), pp. 353-359 (This collection is extracted from the 1850-1856 edition of Poe's Works. It was reprinted several times.)
  • The Imp of the Perverse” — June 14, 1871 — Urbana Union (Urbana, OH), vol. X, no. 13, p. 1, cols. 1-4 (with the broader title of “Romance” and the following introductory note: “THE original MS. of the following remarkable romance is in our possession, and can be seen by calling at the office of the URBANA UNION.”) (This printing omits the final two sentences of later versions, and otherwise agrees with the version printed in Graham's Magazine.) (The original editor of the Urbana Union was John W. Houx, who was later replaced by A. R. Candy and Will Hubbard Kernan (1845-1905). The founding owner was Col. John Hough James (1800-1881), who sold it to George B. Hunter in 1870.)
  • The Imp of the Perverse” — 1874 — Works of Edgar A. Poe, edited by J. H. Ingram, vol. 1, pp. 266-272 (This collection was subsequently reprinted in various forms)
  • “The Imp of the Perverse” — January 30, 1929 — Evening Star (Washington, DC), whole no. 30,955, p. 33, cols. 1-2 (under the general title “World Famous Stories”, acknowledged as “by Edgar Allan Poe.”)


Scholarly and Noteworthy Reprints:

  • The Imp of the Perverse” — 1894-1895 — The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 2: Tales, eds. E. C. Stedman and G. E. Woodberry, Chicago: Stone and Kimball (2:33-41)
  • The Imp of the Perverse” — 1902 — The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 6: Tales V, ed. J. A. Harrison, New York: T. Y. Crowell (6:145-153, and 6:287-290)
  • The Imp of the Perverse” — 1978 — The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 3: Tales & Sketches II, ed. T. O. Mabbott, Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (3:1217-1227)
  • “The Imp of the Perverse” — 1984 — Edgar Allan Poe: Poetry and Tales, ed. Patrick F. Quinn (New York: Library of America), pp. 826-832


Comparative and Study Texts:

Instream Comparative and Study Texts:


Associated Material and Special Versions:

Miscellaneous Texts and Related Items:

  • “Le démon de la perversité” (French translation by Charles Baudelaire)
  • “Le démon de la perversité” — 1857 — Nouvelles histoires par Edgar Poe, Paris: Michel Lévy frères
  • “The Imp of the Perverse” — 1962 — a reading by James Mason, issued as a Lively Arts LP (LA-30006)
  • “The Imp of the Perverse” — 1968 — a reading by Martin Donegan as part of volume I of Short Stories of Edgar Allan Poe, issued on the CMS Records label (CMS-555)
  • “Le démon de la perversité” — 1869 — Nouvelles histoires par Edgar Poe, Paris: Michel Lévy frères
  • “The Imp of the Perverse” — 2007 — Audio book (unabridged), read by Chris Aruffo



  • Brown, Arthur A., “Death and Telling in Poe's ‘The Imp of the Perverse’,” Studies in Short Fiction, Spring 1994, 31:197-205.
  • Brown, Arthur A., ‘A Man Who Dies’: Poe, James, Faulkner and the Narrative Function of Death, PhD disseration, University of California, Davis, 1995
  • Cuneo, Sherman A., “An Interesting Manuscript Find,” Bookman (New York), vol. VII, no. 4, June 1898, pp. 289-296. (A few further details about the disposition of McKelly's collection is provided in “American Manuscripts Found in Sandusky,” New York Times, June 11, 1898.)
  • Cavell, Stanley, “Being Odd, Getting Even (Descarte, Emerson, Poe),” in The American Face of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. Shawn Rosenheim and Stephen Rachman, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1995, pp. 3-36
  • Del Vecchio, Rosa Maria, “Into that Material Nihility”: Poe's Criminal Persona as God-Peer, PhD disseration, Case Western University, 1994
  • 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.
  • Kanjo, Eugene R., “ ‘The Imp of the Perverse’: Poe's Dark Comedy of Art and Death,” Poe Newsletter (October 1969), 2:41-44.
  • 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.
  • Spanier, Sandra Whipple, “ ‘Nests of Boxes‘: Form, Sense, and Style in Poe's ‘The Imp of the Perverse’,” Studies in Short Fiction (1980), 17:307-316.
  • 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 Imp of the Perverse