The Museum Collection

First Printing of "The Tell-Tale Heart" from The Pioneer

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Creator: Edgar Allan Poe
Date: January 1843
Format: Magazine
Source: Museum Purchase
Collection: Poe Foundation, Inc.
Publisher: Leland & Whiting
Place of Publication: Boston
Publish Date: January 1843


Edgar Allan Poe's popular short story "The Tell-Tale Heart" first appeared in the inaugural issue (January 1843) of the Boston magazine The Pioneer, edited by poet James Russell Lowell (1819-1891). Although only three issues were published before Lowell discontinued the magazine, The Pioneer is now considered the most ambitious literary journal of Antebellum America. It contained contributions by Poe, Lowell, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Whittier, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Though the story is a favorite with today's readers, "The Tell-Tale Heart" was rejected the first time Poe tried to publish it, the publishers of the Boston Miscellany writing in their rejection letter, "If Mr. Poe would condescend to furnish more quiet articles, he would be a most desirable correspondent." Lowell, however, liked the story and acquired it for the first issue of his own magazine, paying Poe ten dollars for the work. A number of magazines soon reprinted the story, but, owing to the lax copyright laws of the time, Poe did not receive any royalties for these unauthorized reprints. Two years later, the editor of Poe's next collection of short stories did not select it for inclusion in that book.

The twentieth century's leading Poe scholar Thomas Ollive Mabbott called "The Tell-Tale Heart" "a supreme artistic achievement," and the tale has long been a favorite among readers. A staple at readings of Poe?s works, the story has been adapted several times to film, including the 2009 movie "Tell Tale" starring Josh Lucas and the upcoming "The Tell-Tale Heart" starring Rose McGowan. It even inspired an episode of the television program "The Simpsons" in which Lisa builds a diorama based on the story.

The Poe Museum's copy of The Pioneer is bound together in a volume with several issues of Graham's Magazine (another periodical to which Poe contributed) and one issue of The Artist.