April 16, 1846
Edgar Allan Poe Details His Literary Life and Says “The Raven” and “The Valdemar Case” Are His Best Things
Having been ill these last two months, Poe has been in the country; Pendleton should write him in New York and not Baltimore. He agrees with Pendleton about Lucian Minor: “He is the King of Donkey-dom.” Poe has sent Pendleton’s work to editors, and discusses at length how, and how much, certain magazines pay: “They graduate their pay by mere whim - apparent popularity or their own opinion of merit.”
In this connection he reviews what he recently got paid for "Marginalia" and "Philosophy of Composition", and what he has received from various editors in the past. But Nathaniel Parker Willis and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, he believes, are well paid. When Pendleton’s book comes out, Poe assures him, he too will have fame and money both. Still, Rufus Wilmot Griswold is right about the externals of Pendleton’s book: “Never commit yourself as a pamphleteer.”
Poe, meanwhile, is writing a series called "The N. Y. City Literati" for Godey’s Magazine which he hopes to publish as a book, "The Living Literati of the U S." He intends to feature Pendleton in it and asks what works he should quote. The book will also carry a preface about Poe, by James Russell Lowell but it is defective, he says, “inasmuch as it says nothing of my latest & I think my best things - "The Raven" (for instance), "The Valdemar Case." Poe would like Pendleton to amend a “P.S.” to Lowell’s memoir “because I fancy that you appreciate me - estimate my merits & demerits at a just value. If you are willing to oblige me - speak frankly above all - speak of my faults, too, as forcibly as you can.”
Autograph Letter Signed (“Edgar A. Poe”), 2 pages, quarto, New York, April 16 ’42 . To Phillip Pendleton Cooke.
Used with the permission of Shapell legacy partnership.