Text: J. W. Ostrom, B. R. Pollin, and J. A. Savoye, “Preface,” The Collected Letters of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. I: 1824-1845 (2008), pp. vii-xii (This material is protected by copyright)


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[page xv, unnumbered:]

Preface

This edition is a testament to the lives and work of two men — Edgar Allan Poe and John Ward Ostrom. The former is the world-renowned American poet, short-story writer, critic, and author of the letters here collected; the latter, the indefatigable scholar whose lifelong efforts are the primary basis for both the letter texts and notes. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, George Edward Woodberry, John Henry Ingram, William Fearing Gill, and others busied themselves in researching and publishing accounts of Poe’s life and works. These biographers generally used individual letters, often merely quoted as brief excerpts, as part of their studies of Poe. Occasionally, Ingram or Woodberry printed as a separate article a group of several Poe letters that were linked by theme, time period, or correspondent. Only James Albert Harrison (in 1902, reprinted in 1903) attempted to collect all of the known letters of Poe into a volume dedicated to that purpose. To fill out the book, Harrison included letters written to Poe and some letters written about Poe from and to associates. Unfortunately, even the best of these collections presented texts that were inaccurate and incomplete, and Poe’s original punctuation was often lost through editorial meddling.

John Ostrom sought to correct this neglect. His association with Poe’s letters began in 1940 with an article on the correspondence of Poe and Joseph E. Snodgrass (Americana, July 1940, 35:409-446), continued with his preliminary Check List of Poe’s Correspondence (University of Virginia, July 1941), and ended forty years later with his Revised Check List (Studies in the American Renaissance 1981). Following his dissertation (“A Critical Edition of the Letters of Edgar Allan Poe,” University of Virginia, 1947), Ostrom’s two-volume edition of Poe’s letters was first published in 1948, by the prestigious Harvard University Press, followed by two substantial supplements, both printed in American Literature (November 1952, 24:358-366 and March 1957, 29:79-86). When the original edition was reprinted in 1966, Dr. Ostrom combined and revised these articles, added new information, and ensured that the result was appended, forming a third [page xvi:] supplement. A fourth and final supplement was printed in American Literature (January 1974, 45:513-536). Dr. Ostrom, of course, was not the only person actively seeking and printing previously undiscovered Poe letters, and a small number of new items had also appeared in a variety of articles by other scholars. Occasionally, such letters continue to be dragged out of attics or family archives.

Although of tremendous value to scholars and anyone with a more than casual interest in Poe, the fragmented presentation of the material made it difficult to use. Even the 1966 edition of The Letters required the reader to check not only the initial text of a letter but the supplement as well, in case there was a relevant revision; and the subject index did not include material in the supplement. The intervening years have also produced several new letters, as well as numerous details about Poe’s life, his works, and his associates. Particularly useful are The Poe Log (1987) and the comprehensive collections of Poe’s works edited by Thomas Ollive Mabbott (1969 and 1978), Burton R. Pollin (1981-1997), and others. This new information, coupled with the importance of the letters to Poe studies, and the continuing significance of Poe as an historical and literary figure as we approach the bicentennial of his birth, has fully justified the years of work necessary for an updated edition.

In preparing this revision of The Letters, it was deemed worthwhile to forego the option of retaining the existing supplement and creating one or more additional supplements for corrections and new letters. Instead, all of the material has been thoroughly reworked for the convenience of the reader. New items and improved readings of previously printed texts have been integrated to create a single chronological series, with re-dated letters moved to their correct locations. Notes rely heavily on Ostrom’s original comments, applying revisions from the supplements and combining a substantial amount of new information from a wide variety of sources, all rewritten for the sake of clarity and to maintain a consistent sense of style. Important problems with previous printings are discussed as appropriate, but minor errors have generally been corrected silently. A separate section [page xvii:] has been created for promissory notes and receipts, and another for spurious material. The expanded subject index now covers all of the material presented up through the appendices, and refers to items by letter and page numbers. The Check List of Poe’s Correspondence has been considerably revised, with new and corrected entries, plus detailed information about the known history of ownership and printings, with sale prices noted as documented.

Great care has been taken in the preparation of this edition, but no project of this size and scope can be entirely free from problems. No doubt there are errors of omission, of fact, and of technical or typographical matters. The editors hope that such difficulties are minor, and that the result of their efforts is beneficial to their readers — and worthy of their predecessors and their subject.

Acknowledgments, Third Edition (2008):

The editors acknowledge the institutions and individuals who have contributed to this edition of Poe’s letters: American Antiquarian Society (Denis Lowerie); Boston Post archives (Bob Davis, Researcher); Boston Public Library (R. Eugene Zepp; William Faucon; and Roberta Zonghi, Curator of Manuscripts); Bronxville Public Library (Patricia Root and Vivien Shieh); Buffalo and Erie County Library; Chicago Historical Society (Debbie Vaughn); City University of New York, Graduate Division, Computer Facilities (James Haggard, Director; and Joshua Weisser, Assistant); Colonial Williamsburg Foundation (G. H. Yetter); Columbia University, Butler Library (Jean Ashton, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts); Duke University libraries (Elizabeth Dunn); E. A. Poe House and Museum, Baltimore, MD (Jeff Jerome, Curator); Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, MD (Jeff Korman and Kristen Romano); Houghton Library of Harvard University (Susan Halpert); Humanities Research Center Library, University of Texas at Austin (Hannah Frost and Tara Wenger); Huntington Library (Sarah Sue Hodson, Curator; Peter Blodgett; Jill Cogen; Alison Dinicola; Gayle Richardson; and Rebecca Tuttle); [page xviii:] Indiana University Library at Bloomington (Joel Silver, Director; Sandra Taylor; Francis Lapka; Christopher S. Harter; and Sue Presnell); Longfellow House (Anita Israel); Massachusetts Historical Society (Kim Nusco); Morgan Library (Christine Nelson, Reference); Natchez Historical Society (Candace Bundgard, genealogist); New York Public Library: Berg Collection (Isaac Gewirtz, Director; Stephen Crook, Assistant), Research Library and Main Collection (Elizabeth Diefendorf, Head of Reference), Map Division, and Art History and Prints section (Helen Waddell, Curator); New York Society Library (Mark Piel, Director; and Steve Baumholtz); New York University: Fales Collection (Marvin Taylor, Director) and Bobst Library; Pennsylvania Historical Society (Max Moellar); Philadelphia Free Library (Karen Lightner and Joël Sartorius); Poe Foundation and Museum of Richmond, VA (W. Holt Edmunds; Chris Semtner; Kitty Smith; and the late Agnes M. Bondurant); Poe Studies Association (Barbara Cantalupo and Richard Fusco, of the EAP Review, which has published auxiliary material); Sotheby’s Auctioneers (Selby Kiffer); University of Virginia, Alderman Library (Ann L. Southwell); Vanderbilt University (James S. Patty, Professor and former Head of the Baudelaire Collection); West Point US Military Academy Library (Susan Lintelmann, Manuscripts Curator); Wittenberg University Libraries (Dean Richard P. Veler and Wendy Rank, also Susan Smailes); Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Joel L. Brattin); Yale University Library; and Dr. Patricia Cline Cohen.

Thanks are also due to the late Roger Asselineau, Sorbonne Emeritus Professor and distinguished Poe scholar, who found and sent the text for letter LTR-133a; Stephen Breman, whose computer expertise helped in assembling early corrections; The “California Collector” and his assistant, Diane Hailey, supplying letters and permissions; Michael J. Deas, artist and expert on Poe’s portraiture; Dominique Demelenne and the late Carol Peirce, for assistance in resolving questions in the text as we approached a final draft; William Dunmore (Professor Emeritus, NYU), a gracious consultant; Christian Drost (Hamburg University, Germany), expert on Poe illustrations; Rita Fleischer (CUNY), a gracious consultant; Fernando Gonzales de [page xix:] León (Springfield College), for the letter fragment from the diary of Isaac Mickle; Claudie Holstein (Geodesic Library); Joel Myerson (University of SC), generous editor of Studies in the American Renaissance, furnishing the basic “Revised Check List”; Alice M. Pollin, whose consultative wisdom and untiring, years-long efforts on all phases of the revised edition were vital to its completion; Myles C. Pollin, who accessed needed copyright data; John Reilly (Professor Emeritus, Holy Cross College), expert on Poe’s life, Mrs. S. H. Whitman, and data from the American Antiquarian Society; Louis Renza (Dartmouth College), a valued scholar with keen insights; Susan Jaffe Tane, whose collection furnished worthwhile materials; and Dwight R. Thomas, for two invaluable books, collectively forming a treasure-trove for the study of Poe’s life and works.

Finally, special appreciation must be expressed to the Library of the University of Iowa (David Schoonover, Director; Sidney Huttner, Head of Special Collections; and former Head, Robert A. McCown). This institution is the holder of the significant archive of material collected and prepared by Thomas Ollive Mabbott, the great Poe scholar. Mabbott had long intended to include the letters in his own projected collection of Poe’s works. Unfortunately, just as he retired, with the expectation of many years to focus on completing his edition, severe illness struck him. At the time of his death in 1968, only the volume of Poems was ready for publication, and the two subsequent volumes of Tales and Sketches required another decade of work by his widow, Maureen Cobb Mabbott. Ostrom was aware of T. O. Mabbott’s concerns about the authenticity of eleven of Poe’s letters, incorporating that information in his fourth supplement (1974), but the rest of Mabbott’s material was apparently unavailable to him. Among the items relevant to the present edition are comments written in the margins of Mabbott’s own copy of the 1948 edition of The Letters; a rough draft of an introduction; the manuscript of letter LTR-77; a photocopy of another manuscript letter from Poe otherwise unknown (letter LTR-67b); transcripts and copies of letters written to Poe; and miscellaneous notes which shed light on some issues, raise questions on others, and merely hint at what he might have produced. [page xx:]

Acknowledgments, Second Edition, with Supplement (1966):

Mr. Charles J. Biddle, of Philadelphia; Dr. Otto O. Fisher, of Detroit; Colonel Richard Gimbel, of Yale University; the late Mr. William H. Koester, of Baltimore; and Mr. Henry Bradley Martin, of New York — all of whom shared letters from their private collections; The editors of the Duke University Press for permission to use material from the two supplements in American Literature (November, 1952, 24:358-366, and March, 1957, 29:79-86); Edward Lazare, editor of American Book-Prices Current; Boston Public Library (Mr. John Alden, Keeper of Rare Books; and Mr. Francis O. Mattson, Assistant in the Department of Rare Books); Annmary Brown Memorial Library, Brown University, Providence, RI (Mrs. Nan Sumner, Assistant to the Curator); Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, Buffalo, NY (Mr. Jerome F. Jacob, Head, Language, Literature, and Fine Arts Department); William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of California, Los Angeles, CA (Mr. Lawrence Clark Powell, Director); Butler Library, Columbia University (Mr. Kenneth A. Lohf, Assistant Librarian); Mr. Kenneth W. Cameron, Editor, Emerson Society Quarterly, Hartford, CT; Enoch Pratt Free Library, Main Library, Baltimore, MD (Mr. Richard Hart, Head, Literature Department); the Faculty Research Committee, Wittenberg University; Houghton Library, Harvard University (Mr. W. H. Bond, Librarian; and Miss Donna Ferguson, Department of Manuscripts); the Lilly Library, Indiana University (Mr. David Randall, Librarian); Dawes Memorial Library, Marietta College (Mr. Robert F. Clayton, Librarian); Princeton University (Mr. William S. Dix, Librarian; and Mr. Alexander P. Clark, Curator of Manuscripts); Miriam Lutcher Stark Library, University of Texas, Austin, TX (Mrs. Clara Sitter, Acting Librarian); University of Virginia Library (Miss Anne Freudenberg, Acting Curator of Manuscripts; and Mr. William G. Ray, Assistant in Manuscripts); Virginia State Library (Mr. Randolph W. Church, Librarian); Thomas Library, Wittenberg University, Springfield, OH (Mr. Bob Lee Mowery, Librarian; Mrs. Luella Eutsler, Reference Librarian; Miss Ilo Fisher, Chief of Technical Service; and Mrs. Margaret Price, Library Staff). [page xxi:]

Acknowledgments, First Edition (1948):

Dean James Southall Wilson of the University of Virginia; Dr. Thomas Ollive Mabbott of Hunter College; Alderman Library, the University of Virginia (Mr. Harry Clemons, Director; Mr. John Cook Wyllie, Curator of Rare Books; Mr. Francis L. Berkeley, Jr., Curator of Manuscripts; Mr. Jack Dalton, Assistant Librarian; Miss Louise, Savage; Miss Evelyn Dollens; Mr. Harris Williams; and Mr. William Gaines); Mr. William H. Koester, of Baltimore; Mr. Josiah K. Lilly, Jr., of Indianapolis; the Valentine Museum, of Richmond (Mrs. Ralph Catterall; and the Trustees) ; Mr. H. Bradley Martin, of New York; Mr. Merrill Griswold, of Boston; Mr. and Mrs. George P. Coleman; Mrs. Sherburne Prescott; Miss Mary Benjamin; Mr. Richard G. Gimbel; Mr. Charles C. Hart; Dr. Arthur H. Quinn; Dr. David K. Jackson; Judge Charles Zimmerman of the Ohio State Supreme Court; Dr. John C. French, of Johns Hopkins University; Dr. W. K. Wimsatt of Yale University; Dr. C. William Miller, of Temple University; Dr. John G. Varner, of Washington and Lee University; Mr. Edwin B. Hill and Mr. K. L. Daughrity; the Poe Foundation, Richmond (Mr. Turner Arrington, President; Dr. Douglas S. Freeman, former President; and Miss Mary G. Traylor, Secretary until her death); and the New York Historical Society.

The American Antiquarian Society (Mr. Clarence S. Brigham, Director); Boston Public Library (Mr. Zoltan Haraszti, Keeper of Rare Books; his assistant, Miss Honor McCusker, Curator of English Literature; Mr. Milton Edward Lord; and Mr. Richard G. Hensley); Drexel Institute (Miss Marie Hamilton Law, Librarian); Library of Congress (Mr. St. George L. Sioussat, Chief of the Division of Manuscripts; and Mr. George A. Schwegmann, Jr., Director of the Union Catalogs); the Newberry Library (Mr. John T. Windle, Head of the Public Service Department); New York Public Library (Mr. Paul Rice North, Chief of the Reference Department; Mr. Robert W. Hill, Keeper of Manuscripts; and Dr. John D. Gordan, Director of the Berg Collection); Peabody Institute (Mr. Lloyd A. Brown; and Mr. Louis H. Dielman, Librarian Emeritus); Petersburg, Virginia, Public Library [page xxii:] (Miss Theresa D. Hodges, Librarian); Pierpont Morgan Library (Miss Belle da Costa Greene, Librarian); Enoch Pratt Free Library (Mr. Richard H. Hart, Head of the Literature Department; and Mr. Emerson Greenaway); Virginia State Library (Mr. R. W. Church, State Librarian); Lt. Col. United States Military Academy (Lt. Col. W. H. Corbett; and W. J. Morton, former Librarian); Yale University Library (Miss Anne S. Pratt, Reference Librarian); Connecticut Historical Society (Mr. Thompson R. Harlow); Dumbarton Oaks Research Library (Mrs. Ethel B. Clark); Houghton Library, Harvard University (Mr. William A. Jackson); Haverford College Library, Charles Roberts Autograph Collection (Miss Anna B. Hewitt); Historical Society of Pennsylvania (Mr. R. N. Williams, II); Mr. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Dana, of the Longfellow House, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Henry E. Huntington Library (Mr. Leslie Bliss and Mr. Herbert C. Schulz); Iowa State Department of History and Archives (Mr. Emory H. English); Abernethy Library of American Literature, Middlebury College (Miss Viola C. White); Maryland Historical Society (Mr. William D. Hoyt, Jr., Assistant Director); Wrenn Library, University of Texas (Miss Fannie Ratchford); Virginia State Library (Mr. R. W. Church and Mr. William J. Van Schreeven); and Yale University Library (Mr. James T. Babb).

The Syndics of the Harvard University Press, Mr. Roger L. Scaife, Mr. Thomas J. Wilson, and Phoebe deKay Donald; D. Appleton-Century Company for permission to reprint material, edited by George E. Woodberry for the Century Magazine in 1894 and in 1903; Thomas Y. Crowell Company, publishers of the Virginia Edition of Poe, edited by James A. Harrison; J. B. Lippincott Company, publishers of the book Edgar Allan Poe Letters Till Now Unpublished, copyright, 1925, by the Valentine Museum, with commentary by Mary Newton Stanard; Mrs. Charles D. Woodberry, Boston, for material in George E. Woodberry’s Life of Poe, 1909; and Mr. Clarence Gohdes, Editor of American Literature, published by the Duke University Press.

 


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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - CLT08, 2008] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Letters of Edgar Allan Poe (Ostrom, Pollin and Savoye) (Preface)