Text: Edgar Allan Poe to Mrs. Maria Clemm — August 5, 1848 (LTR-275a)


Richmond — August 5.

My own dearest Muddy — What can be the reason that you have not written to me ? Here I have been a whole fortnight & not one line from you yet. I did not think you would treat your poor Eddy in such a way as that. Be sure & write the moment you get this and, if possible, send the “article”. Mr Thompson has accepted it. I gave him, also, the article about Mrs Lewis & he will publish it. Of course, I could not ask him anything for it — as it was a great favor to get him to insert it at any rate. I am still out at John's — although I have been to Mrs M's & am going back in a day or two to stay some time. Mrs M. was very cordial — but Louisa still more so. I think she is the sweetest creature in the world and makes John the best of wives. She is hardly changed in the least. You know how often I have spoken to you of her heavenly smile. — Be sure & enclose any notices of “Eureka”. I write this in the greatest hurry, as John is getting ready to go to town. God bless you, my own dearest mother. Write immediately. Your own Eddy.



This letter is printed here, with permission, from the manuscript in the Robins collection of the Fales Library of the University of New York.

On the reverse of this one-page letter is this note: “Do not return this. Do not let Saturday pass without writing to me.” In the word “pass,” Poe uses the old-fashioned form of “pafs,” unusual for him at this late date. Poe occasionally uses this form in such inscriptions as “Mifs Elizabeth Barrett Barrett.”

Also on the obverse is this note, presumably in the hand of Maria Clemm: “Eddie did not reply to the article of English. But put in into the hands of a Lawer, English had to to contradict his base falsehoods, and as he had nothing, the Editor of the Mirror had to pay heavy damages. [[a horizontal line]] I think Annie would have no objection to your copying what you mention provided you do not mention her name — “

Thompson was John Ruben Thompson, the editor of the Southern Literary Messenger. The article he accepted was “The Rationale of Verse,” which appeared, in two parts, in the SLM for October-November of 1848. The “article about Mrs. Lewis” was a review of a book of her poems (The Child of the Sea and Other Poems), which was printed in SLM for June 1848. Eureka, Poe's grand “prose poem,” was available to the public about August of 1848. The person Poe refers to as “John” was John Hamilton Mackenzie, whose wife was Louisa Lanier Mackenzie. “Mrs. M” was presumably John's mother, Mrs. Jane Scott Mackenzie (1783-1865).

This letter was discovered in 1985 by Frank Walker, curator of the Fales Library of New York University. It was first printed, in facsimile, in NYU Magazine, II, no. 1, Spring 1987). Shortly afterwards, the text was printed in a brief article “A New Poe Letter,” PSA Newsletter, XV, no. 2, Fall 1987, p.2. (The introductory note for the letter text gives a date of 1849 rather than 1848, an error that was corrected by Dwight Thomas in the PSA Newsletter for Spring 1988. As Thomas astutely notes, Poe printed Eureka in 1848 and would hardly have been concerned about reviews of this work in 1849.) A much-reduced, though very readable, photographic reproduction of the front of the letter may be found in Kenneth Silverman's Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance, 1991, on the obverse of the page facing p. 245.


[S:0 - MS, 18xx] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Letters - Poe to Mrs. M. Clemm (LTR275a/RCL719c)