Text: John H. Ingram, “Preface,” The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, vol. I, 1874, pp. v-vi


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[page v, unnumbered:]

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PREFACE.

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IN presenting to the public this collection — the first complete one — of Edgar Allan Poe’s works, a few prefatory words are necessary. A considerable portion of the contents of these volumes, it may be pointed out, has escaped the notice of previous editors; and no pains have been spared to insure the accuracy of the whole by collating the various editions published during the author’s lifetime, — including, in several instances, copies that received his personal supervision and correction, — in order to avoid the numerous errata which disfigure previous collections, both American and British. To the “Memoir” prefixed to this edition the reader’s attention is particularly solicited, not so much from the fact that it contains a great deal that is new, as that it omits a great deal that is old and misleading. The soi[[-]]disant “Memoir of Edgar Poe” by Rufus W. Griswold has acquired a [page vi:] world-wide notoriety, and his misrepresentations have been copied or quoted by every subsequent biographer, so that the attempt, at this late period, to refute them, will appear to many an almost hopeless task; but although in Europe this “fancy sketch of a perverted jaundiced vision” has been accepted, almost without exception, as a record of facts, in America its truthfulness has been frequently and authoritatively impugned, and a perusal of the following pages will, it is confidently believed, alter the prevalent idea of Poe’s character. The testimony of nearly every person with whom he was closely connected is adduced in support of the account now given of his history, and irrefutable evidence submitted in disproof of all charges capable of refutation brought against his honour. It may appear singular that no trustworthy biography of Poe has yet appeared in his native country. The circumstance is inexplicable, although the fact that attempts to produce such a work have been made is well known. Mr. James Wood Davidson, the accomplished author of “Living Writers of the South,” was engaged for several years in storing up material for the work, when, most unfortunately, his whole library and manuscripts were destroyed in the siege of Charlestown. Mr. Thomas C. Clarke of Philadelphia, a personal acquaintance of Poe’s, was for many years occupied in the same way, but never completed [page vii:] the task, and has now disposed of his collection. Mrs. Whitman, Poe’s most consistent defender, whose name will, hereafter, be closely associated with his, has, in her beautiful little work on “Edgar Poe and his Critics,” ably performed for his literary fame what is here attempted for his personal worth. To her, to Mrs. Lewis (“Stella”), to Mr. Davidson, to Mr. Eugene Schuyler of the Legation of the United States at St. Petersburg, to the Faculty of the University of Virginia, to the authorities of the West Point Military Academy, and to all who have so willingly assisted this endeavour to place before the world a faithful portraiture of one who has been described as America’s first and greatest literary genius, my sincere and heartfelt thanks are tendered.

The portrait prefixed to the present volume — the first engraved portrait of Edgar Poe worthy of that name — is taken from a photograph in my possession, by Messrs. Coleman and Remington. This photograph is acknowledged by Poe’s personal acquaintances to be an excellent likeness, and has been faithfully reproduced by the engraver.

JOHN H. INGRAM


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[S:1 - JHI, 1874] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - Preface (J. H. Ingram, 1874)