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Righting Wrongs: John Henry Ingram’s First Publication on Poe David Degener San Francisco, California John Henry Ingram’s first two publications on Poe were magazine articles, which Poe’s wouldbe English biographer was in the habit of sending to potential American informants.’ The articles also helped him gain access to celebrated literary countrymen.2John Carl Miller published the text of Ingram’s second article, “More New Facts about Edgar Allan PO^," from loose leaves that Ingram removed from the journal in which they had appeared (Miller called it “the London Mirror” ).3 In Building Poe Biography, Miller was pessimistic about finding Ingram’s first article because “the files of that magazine were in that section of the British Museum Library which was bombed and destroyed during World War 11, and copies, if any are extant, have not been 10cated.”~ Those who take an interest either in biography as a genre or craft or in Ingram as one of its more interesting and flawed practitioners will be heartened to learn that Binghamton University-SUNY has a fairly complete set of The Mirror. Ingram’s first article, “New Facts about Edgar Allan Poe,” appeared in the issue dated Saturday, 24 January 1874 (vol. 3, whole no. 65, pp. 159-60).5 The present article has four purposes: first, to outline Ingram’s aims and methods in drafting his first public defense of Poe; second, to make an accurate text of this first article available to scholars; third, to annotate Ingram ’s text with information about his sources and the manipulations to which he subjects them; and fourth, to add an as yet unpublished letter to the record of Ingram’s correspondence with Sarah Helen Whitman, his most important American ally in the enterprise of rebuilding Poe’s posthumous reputation. Ingram told Mrs. Whitman that The Mirror, “though only a weekly, is written for by some of our best known writers, & has a large circulation so that the series of papers which I am about to publish in it-and which I will forward you as they appear-will go before some thousands of readers.”6 The Mirror’s editor, William Kingston Sawyer, was born in Brighton in 1828. After seven or eight years spent editing the Oxford University Herald, Sawyer moved to London in the early 1860s. Besides editing a certain number of “metropolitan publications of more or less importance,” Sawyer published twenty-five novels and romances, four books of verse, and three plays. Some of his lyrics were set to music; one is said to have achieved “world-wide celebrity.” After The Mirror’s demise, Sawyer moved on to Funny Folks, which he edited until his death in 1882. In that weekly, “one of the most popular, and also one of the most deserving of the comic and satirical journals of the day,” Sawyer published “many clever pieces of serio-comic verse, parodies, and burlesques, of high1 finished literary form, and full Sawyer was fifteen years Ingram’s senior. Ingram describes him to Mrs. Whitman as a “literary friend [ . . . ] who is an intense admirer of Poe.”8 Their paths first crossed in the 1860s when Sawyer printed what Ingram later called his “wretched boyhood verses” in one or another of Sawyer’s unidentifiable “metropolitan publications.” It was doubtless as an intense admirer of Poe that Sawyer referred Ingram to Adam and Charles Black of Edinburgh , who published Ingram’s four-volume edition of Poe’s works in winter 1874-75. Sawyer also encouraged Ingram to prepare a variorum edition of Poe’s poems. But neither old acquaintance nor admiration for Poe could protect Ingram’s prose from the editor’s pen.” That prose is animated above all by intense anger. Ingram’s target is Rufus Wilmot Griswold. Ingram was angry for two reasons. First, Griswold, both in the “Ludwig” article published in the NewYork Daily Tribune two days after Poe’s death and in the “Memoir of the Author” prefixed to Griswold ’s 1850 edition of Poe’s The Literati,” had painted an inexcusably dark picture of Ingram’s hero. Second, as the result of what we might now call market forces, that picture had come to dominate public discussion of Poe...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1754-6095
Print ISSN
1947-4644
Pages
pp. 41-50
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-07
Open Access
No
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