Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 11 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter approaches Poe’s life through his letters with reference to historical contexts that shaped letter writing in antebellum America, Poe’s interests in handwriting and “Autography,” the relationship between letter writing and antebellum authorship and celebrity, and shifts in Poe’s voice across multiple letters and recipients. In his letters, Poe performed identities ranging from the wronged son, the victim, the lover, and the literary genius. Poe’s epistolary “rhetoric of dread” may be linked to his lyric poetry. As scholars of letter writing in the nineteenth-century United States attest, letters were not “private documents.” Rather, they were “self-conscious” artifacts “circulating between friends and strangers.” Poe’s letters were written when the distinctions between privately circulated manuscripts and public cultures of print were destabilized. His letters to women are studied in this chapter as is the issue of poverty haunting his letters. Finally, Poe’s letters also document his desire for editorship of a magazine and his participation in the business of publishing in antebellum America.

Keywords: Poe’s letters, manuscript circulation, letter writing, authorship, Autography, Sarah Helen Whitman, Annie L. Richmond, Frederick W. Thomas, antebellum publishing, antebellum writers

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.