Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Prospectus of the Stylus,” broadside, January 1848





A Monthly Journal of Literature Proper, the Fine Arts and the Drama.




To the Public. — Since resigning the conduct of the Southern Literary Messenger at the beginning of its third year, and more especially since retiring from the editorship of Graham's Magazine soon after the commencement of its second, I have had always in view the establishment of a monthly journal which should retain one or two of the chief features of the work first mentioned, abandoning or greatly modifying its general character; — but not until now have I felt at liberty to attempt the execution of the design.

I shall be pardoned for speaking more directly of the two magazines in question. Having in neither of them any proprietary right; the objects of their worthy owners, too, being in many respects at variance with my own; I found it not only impossible to effect anything on the score of taste for their mechanical or external appearance, but difficult to stamp upon them internally that individuality which I believed essential to their success. In regard to the extensive and permanent influence of such publications, it appears to me that continuity, distinctness, and a marked certainty of purpose, are requisites of vital importance; but attainable only where one mind alone has at least the general direction and control. Experience, to be brief, has shown me that in founding a journal wherein my interest should not be merely editorial, lies my sole chance of carrying out to completion whatever peculiar intentions I may have entertained.

These intentions are now as heretofore. It shall be the chief purpose of the magazine proposed, to become known as one wherein may be found at all times, on all topics within its legitimate reach, a sincere and a fearless opinion. It shall be a leading object to assert in precept and to maintain in practice the rights, while in effect it demonstrates the advantages, of an absolutely independent criticism: — a criticism self-sustained; guiding itself only by intelligible laws of art; analyzing these laws as it applies them; holding itself aloof from all personal bias, and acknowledging no fear save that of outraging the Right.

In the first number of The Stylus the editor will commence the publication of a work on which he has been employed unremittingly for the last two years. It will be called “Literary America,” and will endeavor to present, much in detail, that great desideratum, a faithful account of the literary productions, litereary people, and literary affairs of the United States.

There is no design, however, to make the journal a critical one solely, or even very especially. It will aim at something more than the usual magazine variety, and at affording a fair field for the true talent of the land, without reference to the mere prestige of name or the advantages of worldly position. But since the efficiency of the work must in great measure depend upon its definitiveness, The Stylus will limit itself strictly to Literature Proper, the Fine Arts and the Drama.

In regard to what is going on, within the limits assigned, throughout the civilized world, it will be a principal object of the magazine to keep its readers really au courant. For this end accurate arrangements have been made at London, Paris, Rome and Vienna. The most distinguished of American scholars has agreed to superintend the department of classical letters. At all points the most effective aid is secured.

In the matter of mechanical execution it is proposed to surpass by very much the ordinary magazine style. The Stylus will include about 100 royal octavo pages per month; forming two thick volumes per year. The paper will be of superior texture ; the type bold and clear. Engravings, when used, will be of the highest order of art, but are promised only in obvious illustration of the text. The price will be Five Dollars per annum, or Three Dollars per single volume, in advance. The provision in respect to advance payment, however, is meant only as a general rule and in reference to the magazine when established. In the commencement, the subscription will not be considered due until the issue of the third number.

Business letters should be addressed to Edgar A. Poe & Co.; all others to


     New York City, January, 1848.






The broadside is printed on one side of a single sheet measuring 9 3/4 x 7 5/16 inches.

This prospectus appears as a facsimile in The Stephen H. Wakeman Collection of Books of Nineteenth Century American Writers, New York: American Art Association Inc, 1924, item 957. On the back of the original of this prospectus from the Wakeman collection is a pencilled note by Poe: “Please re-enclose the printed slips when you have done with them.  Have you seen the article on ‘The American Library’ in the November No. of Blackwood, and if so, what do you think of it?  E. A. Poe.” At the sale, this prospectus, with the autograph note, went for $1,000.

The American scholar referred to is Professor Charles Anthon (1797-1867). Poe clearly identified him in a letter to George W. Eveleth, “The ‘most distinguished of American scholars’ is Prof. Chas. Anthon, author of the ‘Classical Dictionary’.” (E. A. Poe to G. W. Eveleth, February 29, 1848). Two years before, Poe had written to Mrs. Sarah J. Hale, “Professor Chas. Anthon has agreed to take charge for me of a Department of Criticism on Scholastic Letters. His name will be announced” (E. A. Poe to S. J. Hale, January 16, 1846).

Poe sent copies of this prospectus to G. W. Eveleth (January 4, 1848, the prospectus is now at NYPL, Berg Collection, and the letter in the HRCL, University of Texas at Austin), and probably others, not recorded or traced. Another copy of the prospectus, in excellent condition but isolated to the prospectus sheet itself, with no letter or other writing to identify the original recipient, is currently owned by Lawrence Fox (purchased through a dealer, who obtained it from a descendant of the DuPont family).


[S:1 - broadsheet, 1848 (fac)] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Misc - Prospectus of the Stylus]