College of Liberal Arts

Department of English

 

David Degener

"Righting Wrongs:
John Henry Ingram's First Publication on Poe"


In the early 1870s, John Henry Ingram, English civil servant and unrepentant scribbler, undertook to rescue Edgar Allan Poe from the slanders of Poe's first memorialist, Rufus Wilmot Griswold. Ingram's chief ally in this enterprise was the American poet Sarah Helen Whitman, who emerged from her brief engagement to Poe with an unwavering conviction in his genius and an abiding attachment to his memory. Ingram's first two publications on Poe--"New Facts about Edgar Allan Poe" and "More New Facts about Edgar Allan Poe"--were printed in a London weekly called The Mirror. Neither the Whitman archive at Brown University nor the Ingram archive at the University of Virginia preserves a copy of the first article. Because the only issues of The Mirror known to the editor of the Whitman-Ingram correspondence were published after Ingram's two articles, he concluded that Ingram's first article was lost to students of Poe biography. The writer of this article has located the issue of The Mirror containing "New Facts about Edgar Allan Poe" in an American library, and he prints its text here, together with evidence on Ingram's sources, observations on the manipulations to which Ingram subjects them, and inferences about Ingram's method and motivation. A letter that Ingram addressed to Mrs. Whitman on 1 April 1875 proved instrumental in the task of identifying and locating Ingram's Mirror. That letter was separated from the body of Ingram's correspondence with Whitman in 1916, and in 1917 it was bound into a copy of Caroline Ticknor's Poe's Helen. This article publishes Ingram's uncollected letter with its idiosyncratic diction, grammar, and punctuation.

     

     

     

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