Text: Edgar Allan Poe to John Allan — May 29, 1829 (LTR-013)


Baltimore   May 29th

Dear Pa,

I am now going to make a request different from any I have ever yet made.

As I wrote you, some time since, I have been several times to visit Mr Wirt, who has treated me with great kindness & attention. I sent him, for his opinion, a day or two ago, a poem which I have written since I left home — & in the letter which I now enclose you have his opinion upon its merits — From such a man as Mr Wirt, the flattering character he has given of the work, will surely be to you a recommendation in its favor.

In the conclusion of the letter you will see that he advises me to “get a personal introduction to Mr Walsh” the editor of the American Quaterly [[sic]] Review & get his interest in my favor — that interest, and his highest encomiums on the poem are already obtained — as Editor of the Review he promises to notice it which will assure it, if not of popularity, of success —

Under these circumstances, I have thought [page 2:] it my duty to write to you on the subject — Believing you to be free from prejudice, I think you will aid me, if you see cause; At my time of life there is much in being before the eye of the world — if once noticed I can easily cut out a path to reputation — It can certainly be of no disadvantage as it will not, even for a moment, interfere with other objects which I have in view.

I am aware of the difficulty of getting a poem published in this country — Mr Wirt & Mr Walsh have advised me of that — but the difficulty should be no object, with a proper aim in view.

If Mssrs Carey, Lea, & Carey, should decline publishing (as I have no reason to think they will not — they having invariably declined it with all our American poets) that is upon their own risk the request I have to make is this — that you will give me a letter to Mssrs Carey, Lea, & Carey saying that if in publishing the poem “Al Aaraaf” [page 3:] they shall incur any loss — you will make it good to them.

The cost of publishing the work, in a style equal to any of our American publications, will at the extent be $100 — This then, of course, must be the limit of any loss supposing not a single copy of the work to be sold — It is more than probable that the work will be profitable  & that  I  may  gain instead of lose, even in a pecuniary way —

I would remark, in conclusion that I have long given up Byron as a model — for which, I think, I deserve some credit.

If you will help me in this matter I will be always grateful for your kindness.

If you conclude upon giving me a trial please enclose me the letter to Messrs Carey, Lea, & Carey — I shall wait anxiously for your answer —

Give my love to Miss Valentine & all

I remain Yours affecty :
E A. Poe

[page 4:] Please present my thanks to Col: Preston for his obliging letter.



This letter is printed here with permission from the Valentine Museum in Richmond, Virginia. A photographic facsimile of this letter was published in Mary Newton Stanard, Edgar Allan Poe Letters Till Now Unpublished in the Valentine Museum, Richmond, Virginia, Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1925.


[S:0 - MS, 1829] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Letters - Poe to J. Allan (LTR013/RCL030)