Thursday, 3 December 2009

I'm sorry. My friend got me drunk.

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Despite his fame, writer and poet Edgar Allan Poe struggled financially throughout his entire career, even following the publication of his much lauded poem, The Raven. He also enjoyed a drink or two, to a dangerously extent during later life. The following letter was written by Poe in July, 1842, and sent to his publishers along with an article he was desperately hoping they would buy. In the letter, Poe apologises for behaving badly when they last met in New York and blames the embarrassment on his friend William Ross Wallace, a fellow poet who supposedly let Poe drink too many juleps before the meeting.

Transcript follows. Enormous, high quality image of the letter here.



Transcript

Gentlemen,

Enclosed I have the honor to send you an article which I should be pleased if you would accept for the “Democratic Review”. I am desperately pushed for money; and, in the event of Mr O'Sullivan's liking the “Landscape-Garden”, I would take it as an especial favor if you could mail me the amount due for it, so as to reach me here by the 21rst, on which day I shall need it. Can you possibly oblige me in this? If you accept the paper I presume you will allow me your usual sum, whatever that is for similar contributions - but I set no price - leaving all to your own liberality. The piece will make 8 of your pages and rather more.

Will you be kind enough to put the best possible interpretation upon my behavior while in N.York? You must have conceived a queer idea of me - but the simple truth is that Wallace would insist upon the juleps, and I knew not what I was either doing or saying. The Review of Dawes which I offered you was deficient in a ½ page of commencement, which I had written to supersede the old beginning, and which gave the article the character of a general & retrospective review. No wonder you did not take it - I should have been very much mortified if you had. I hope to see you at some future time, under better auspices.

In the meantime I remain.

Yours very truly

(Signed, 'EAPoe')

Should the M.S. not be accepted, please return it as soon as possible, by mail, enveloped as now.