The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe.

New York: J. S. Redfield, 1850-56.

Price: $4,500.00

About the item

Frontispiece portrait of Poe by J. Sartain in volume 1, with tissue guard (offsetting onto title). Half-titles in vols. 1 and 4 as issued. 4 vols. 12mo. Original black blind-embossed cloth, gilt-lettered on spines (vols. 1-3); the fourth volume in contemporary black cloth without embossing, gilt-lettered on spine. Volume 1 with losses along joints and chips at ends of spine; other volumes with small chips and losses; volume 4 with brittle and browned endleaves. BAL 16158, 16159 and 16161; Heartman & Canny, pp. 129-33.

Item #319277

FIRST EDITIONS, second printings of vols. 1-3, vols. 1-3 in binding E (signed by Geo. W. Alexander); first edition of vol. 4 in a binding not identified in BAL; advertisements in vols. 1 and 4 as called for.

“Poe’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Clemm, persuaded Griswold a few days after Poe’s death to be his literary executor, claiming that Poe had asked for him. The news that Griswold would be the editor of Poe’s collected works raised a clamor from Poe’s supporters. Griswold was not willing to give up the executorship so long as he believed it was Poe’s wish … Griswold used his editing of Poe’s works to purge uncomplimentary references to his own work, and he inserted material into letters from Poe that made Poe seem dependent on him and treacherous to other editors such as George Graham, Louis Godey, and George W. Eveleth. His forgeries were not discovered at the time” (ANB). Maria Clemm supplied the Notice to the Reader in vol. 1, which she later regretted after Griswold's scandalous portrait of Poe appeared in vol. 3.

The first volume contains the Tales and the second Poems and Miscellanies. The third volume was published separately and comprises the first edition of The Literati, and includes Griswold's infamous sketch of the author. The first three volumes were published in 1850; the fourth volume was not published until 1856. It became the standard edition of Poe's works for 25 years, and served as the model for nearly another quarter of a century. It is also the edition upon which Charles Baudelaire based his famous translations of Poe's works into French in Histoires Extraordinaires (1856), Nouvelles Histoires Extraordinaires (1857) and Histoires Grotesques et Serieuses (1865).
Complete sets of Poe's Works are now quite scarce.