Poe (left) and Dickens (right)
Charles Dickens turned 200 today. Many readers know the novels of Dickens, but few may know that he and Poe were personally acquainted. Edgar Allan Poe was an admirer of Dickens’s works since “strongly recommending” Dickens’s works to American readers in a June 1836 review from the Southern Literary Messenger. In an 1839 issue of Burton’s Magazine, Poe wrote, “Charles Dickens is no ordinary man, and his writings must unquestionably live.”
Three years later, during Dickens’s 1842 tour of the United States, he met Poe in Philadelphia. Though we do not know exactly what was said during their conversation, we can assume Dickens agreed to help Poe find publishers for his work in England. There is no evidence Dickens told Poe about the death of his pet raven Grip, but, by the time of their meeting, Poe had already read Dickens’s novel Barnaby Rudge, which features a talking raven.
Today, three letters from Dickens to Poe survive as evidence of the meeting of Poe and Dickens. The texts are printed below.
Upon receiving Poe’s invitation to meet, Dickens wrote Poe:
United States Hotel, March 6, 1842.
My Dear Sir, — I shall be very glad to see you whenever you will do me the favor to call. I think I am more likely to be in the way between half-past eleven and twelve, than at any other time. I have glanced over the books you have been so kind as to send me, and more particularly at the papers to which you called my attention. I have the greater pleasure in expressing my desire to see you on this account. Apropos of the “construction” of “Caleb Williams,” do you know that Godwin wrote it backwards, — the last volume first, — and that when he had produced the hunting down of Caleb, and the catastrophe, he waited for months, casting about for a means of accounting for what he had done?
Faithfully yours always,
After returning to London, Dickens wrote Poe:
London, 1 Devonshire Terrace, York Gate, Regent’s Park,
November 27, 1842.
Dear Sir, — by some strange accident (I presume it must have been through some mistake on the part of Mr. Putnam in the great quantity of business he had to arrange for me), I have never been able to find among my papers, since I came to England, the letter you wrote to me at New York. But I read it there, and think I am correct in believing that it charged me with no other mission than that which you had already entrusted to me by word of mouth. Believe me that it never, for a moment, escaped my recollection; and that I have done all in my power to bring it to a successful issue — I regret to say, in vain.
I should have forwarded you the accompanying letter from Mr. Moxon before now, but that I have delayed doing so in the hope that some other channel for the publication of our book on this side of the water would present itself to me. I am, however, unable to report any success. I have mentioned it to publishers with whom I have influence, but they have, one and all, declined the venture. And the only consolation I can give you is that I do not believe any collection of detached pieces by an unknown writer, even though he were an Englishman, would be at all likely to find a publisher in this metropolis just now.
Do not for a moment suppose that I have ever thought of you but with a pleasant recollection; and that I am not at all times prepared to forward your views in this country, if I can.
Almost four years later, Dickens wrote Poe:
1 Devonshire Terrace, London. Nineteenth March 1846.
Although I have not received your volume, I avail myself of a leisure moment to thank you for the gift of it.
In reference to your proposal as regards the Daily News, I beg to assure you that I am not in any way connected with the Editorship or current Management of that Paper. I have an interest in it, and write such papers for it as I attach my name to. This is the whole amount of my connection with the Journal.
Any such proposition as yours, therefore, must be addressed to the Editor. I do not know, for certain, how that gentleman might regard it; but I should say that he probably has as many corespondents in America and elsewhere, as the Paper can afford space to.
I am Dear Sir
Edgar A. Poe Esquire
Reports of the Poe Museum’s demise have been vastly exaggerated.
On Sunday morning, viewers of CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood were shocked to hear the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia is closing its doors. No one was more surprised than we at the Poe Museum. Not only are we not closing, but we are preparing to celebrate our ninetieth anniversary with a full schedule of exhibits and events. Since Sunday morning’s broadcast, the Poe Museum has been inundated with calls and emails from concerned citizens from across the country, but we assured them, and will continue to assure them, that the Poe Museum in Richmond is doing fine and has not lost its funding. We appreciate all the concern expressed by our friends, and we hope you will continue to support the Poe Museum.
If you have never been to the Poe Museum, or if you have not visited in a while, October is the perfect time to pay us a visit to see our new exhibits, “The Raven, Terror & Death” and “Death and Mourning in the Age of Poe.” We will also have a book launch for the new anthology Richmond Macabre on October 2, our annual commemoration of the anniversary of Poe’s death on October 6 (Yes, we celebrate his birthday as well as his death day.), our Halloween Unhappy Hour on October 27, and Poe’s Pumpkin Patch on October 29. In the new year, we will celebrate Poe’s birthday with a Poe-rade through Poe’s Richmond and the opening of a new exhibit of the 43 illustrations to “The Raven” done by James Carling in 1883 and not publicly exhibited in over 35 years. In April, we will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Poe Museum with a new exhibit of rarely seen or recently discovered Poe manuscripts and letters.
Below is a list of some of next year’s Unhappy Hours and exhibits. You can expect to see even more of the kind of events only the Poe Museum can bring you.
Saturday, January 14th – Poe’s Birthday Bash – Noon to midnight!
Saturday, January 14th- Exhibit Opening: “James Carling’s Illustrations for ‘The Raven’” (continues until May 30) in Exhibit Building
Thursday, April 26th – 90th Anniversary of Poe Museum opening (1920s garden party) – Unhappy Hour – 6-9pm
Thursday, April 26th –Exhibit Opening: “In Poe’s Hand: Letters and Manuscripts” (continues until July 11) in Memorial Building
Thursday, May 24th – Unhappy Hour “The Enchanted Garden” – 6-9pm
Thursday, June 28th – Unhappy Hour “The Gold Bug” (pirates!) – 6-9pm
Thursday, July 26th – Unhappy Hour “The Oval Portrait” (Poe Carnival) – 6-9pm
Thursday, July 26th –Exhibit Opening: “New Acquisitions of Poe Portraiture” (Until September 30) in Exhibit Building 2nd Floor
Thursday, August 23rd – Unhappy Hour “The Premature Burial” – 6-9pm
Thursday, Sept. 27th – Unhappy Hour “The Masque of the Red Death” (Poe variety show) – 6-9pm
Sunday, October 7th – Poe’s Death Day Celebration – Noon-6pm
Thursday, October 25th – Unhappy Hour “The Black Cat”—6-9pm
Sunday, October 28th – Poe’s Pumpkin Patch – Noon to 5pm
Friday, December 7th – Poe Illumination – 6-9pm
In what may possibly be a Poe Museum first, we received a letter addressed to “The Raven” in care of the museum.
The envelope - click for a larger version
Needless to say, the staff was intrigued and we passed the letter along to the Raven.
The Raven was so pleased by the letter, that he asked me to share it on the museum blog. (Ravens lack opposable thumbs, which makes blogging difficult for them.)
So here is the letter:
The letter - click for a larger version
The Raven composed a reply and had me put it in the mail this morning. We hope that Mr. Martell will enjoy the letter.
The Raven has also graciously consented to allowing his reply to be published on this blog, so here it is:
The Raven's Reply - click for larger version
A little bird told us this might be the start of a trend…
Here are some more new theories, submitted to our website, about the cause of Poe’s mysterious death. Study the evidence and submit your own theory at http://www.poemuseum.org/students-mystery.php
I feel Poe, even though we all can tell that he had many things wrong with him that could have resulted in his death, I feel that he planned it so that we could not figure out his death, although all clues seem to point to him overdosing until his death, suicide seems to be what he would do, although it is in my opinion that his death was his last great work, creating the ultimate mystery and horror through himself. He seems to have taken the steps necessary to hide how he died, whether or not he wanted this mystery to be solved is another mystery all it’s own but I feel he caused his own death through liquor, and a series of health problems that he was aware he had to leave behind a legacy to us who love his great works.
I think he had a disease but noboby knew that he had one and finally he died
Battle Creek, Michigan
i killed edgar allan poe
Edgar was already a strange man. He could have gone crazy because of hereditary reasons and who knows what could have happened. All of these theories could possibly be true, but we will never know.
I beleive that the reason of Poe’s death was simply the irregular heart beat, and the brain tumor that should have been treated.
Memphis , Tennesee
Poe could have died of any cause of Death, but I would think it to be Murder.
Coral Springs, Florida
I have observed that when Edgar was hospitalized 5 O’clock in the afternoon to 3 am the next day he was drunk and ill and started hallucinating and talking to thing that weren’t there he got angry at one of the nurses and started acting rough with her and for her self defense she started hitting Edgar causing brain trauma and followed by a heavy fever and estimating died 2 hours later.
San Marcos, California
I feel that Poe’s alcoholism and possibly a mixture of drugs as well is what made him delirious, and he’d had taken him since he was such a melancholic person. Maybe a suicide? Asking God for forgiveness when he said “Lord, help my poor soul” minutes before he died.
my theory of Edgar Allan Poe’s death is that he died of either a heart attack or he killed himself because he got drunk;)
mr poe mustve was real sick that no one knew about and the doctor mustve gave him a due date that he suppose to die.
I think that Edgar was a very intelligent man. I think maybe, being an orphan at such a young age, and him hopping from city to city, took a toll on him & He began to drink. After his first wife died, he started drinking more and more. He got in ill health because of this. I also think he was on drugs from his insane stories. So maybe he just ended his own life because he knew it was going to end soon.
Maybe all his poems and stories were true, about him self or someone else and when that other person saw what he was doing they started poisoning Poe. But if there wasn’t another person then maybe they were about himself and having people know about his actions but not no the reality of them drove him insane and Reynolds that he had said before he died could have been one of his victims or the one person that knew his poems were true.
i believe that poe was still alive; only that he went into hiding. maybe it was to hide from his fears or maybe it was the fact that his pain made him so insane he jus disappeared. only thing i know is that he was a great author and i really appreciated him a lot ……
in my opinion, it could be caused by several reasons. health problems and why not? that idiot politicians could drugged him and kick him because of the election time. he never killed himself. he was with elmira again. so, it’s imposible.
aliens came and took poe away before he could do anything and they made him watch reruns of ugly betty which then killed him
Edgar Allan Poe had suffered so much while he was alive and in such a short time that he probably had problems with alcohol. He had already been addicted to gambling before so why not drinking as well? He was found in a delirium and in somebody else’s clothes. He was drunk and lost his clothes in gambling.
my theory is that poe could have went out in the woods and been bitten by an animal and got rabies.
They said they found him in a bar. They say that he had to be carried out. I suppose that the people in the bar were drunk so they could have seen the real reason he died. Could he have been poisoned by his friend? They felt that it was wrong and showed the most evil side of people. I believe that he was murdered for that reason possibly.
Virginia Beach , Virginia
I think Poe died because he drank too much and got alcohol poisoning. When the people found him he was already dead and they couldn’t revive him. Even if they had found him earlier I don’t think they would have been advanced enough medically to treat his poisoning sufficiently.
Poe died of a pre-existing disease, probably a brain tumor, which grew over time slowly killing him. He said himself in a letter to Maria Clemm that he had not been drinking around the time of his death. Also he left his clothes and correct walking stick at home which is why we was found looking “worse for wear”. He was around the bar because he was giving lectures like he had been doing prior to his leaving Richmond. His close personal friend and nurse said that he had some type of lesion to the brain.
As we approach the 161st anniversary of Poe’s death, the exact cause of his early demise remains a mystery. Here are some of the theories about Poe’s death that visitors to our website have posted recently. Review the evidence and share with us your own theory at http://www.poemuseum.org/students-mystery.php
Marco Island, FL
Poe possibly could have died of A. seizures, B. Heart attack, or C. Brain tumor
I believe that he was not drugged. Nor do I believe he was beaten to death. I believe that he was murdered not by a human being, but by his very own self. I believe that his tumor of the brain had finally ended his existence and put an end to his suffering. He most likely was not beaten or drugged.
He had epilepsy when he got rabies. He had been robbed of his clothes, but for someone to do that they had to knock him out with a weapon. God put him out of his misery when he prayed to him.
I believe he committed suicide. He said he no longer had the wanting to live. He could have taken a drug overdose, because he was already sensitive to alcohol and drugs. He was delirious because he was either drunk or had taken an overdose.
He was a random person who was picked to be a dummy to vote. He was drugged, and he was left to die on the street.
I think he was murdered by his cousin.
He died from too much alcohol drinking and his possible brain tumor. I also believe that Mr. Poe was the best horror writer to have ever lived!!
I think Poe died of hypoglycemia because it s possible since he had diabetes.
He had a pet raccoon named Chronic the Hedgehog. Then Chronic got in a fight with a zebra-cow-pig-tiger-elephant, and then Chronic got back from the fight because he had won the fight and ate them all, so since Poe was hungry he thought the raccoon was fat and juicy, so he ate Chronic and died of rabies and high sugar rate due to his diabetes.
I think he got jumped by people because they knew he was kinda rich and wanted his money.
I think that his step mom killed him for his money and that was all she wanted.
My theory is that someone tricked him into drinking alcohol, but Edgar took under a difficult circumstance of everything around it sounds as if what he wrote was his on life but a dreadful fantasy
He died from a brain tumor.
I believe that Poe died from mania a potu, and over the years people told different stories about his death. No one knows what really happened so everything that people say is partly true.
My theory is he died of alcoholism.
Edgar Allan Poe was so drunk he passed out.
He was depressed and went suicidal.
He died of a heart attack
He got hungry, ate a slice of pie and it had a lot of sugar, and he had a diabetes attack. The end.
Remarks by Dr. Harry Lee Poe
Convener of the Poe Family Reunion
President, Poe Museum
During his lifetime, one of the great concerns of Edgar Poe was what to do with the body. He stuffed them up chimneys. He bricked them up in the basement and in the catacombs. He hid them under the floor boards. He threw them in the river. He burned them in flaming houses and castles. He fed them to cannibals. He carted them about in oblong boxes. He sunk them in whirlpools. He hid them in secret crypts. He hypnotized them until they oozed. Unfortunately, he died intestate without giving clear instructions as to what we should do with his own body
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