Poe's Philadelphia

Emma Em etc.
  Important Women Writers of the American Renaissance

From Top, L to R:

Emma Embury,
Fanny Osgood,
Catherine Maria Sedgwick,
Lydia Sigourney,
Elizabeth Oakes Smith.

All but Sedgwick were very close friends of Poe’s.

This tribute to female writers appeared as a frontispiece to Graham's magazine.

George Lippard, Revolutionary

One of Poe's chief Philadelphia based protégés, Lippard became the most controversial author in America in 1844, with the publication of the first American 'muckraking novel,' "Monks of Monk's Hall." Lippard was handsome and charismatic, and devoted his short life to raising the eyebrows of the Amercian people towards seeing the mass political and moral devastation happening in their own cities. Most importantly, Lippard founded the 'Brotherhood of Union,' later changed to 'The Brotherhood of America,' which was the first American Labor Union.
George Lippard

The Monks of Monk's Hall

The B.O.A. still exists... a tribute to Lippard's pioneering efforts in protecting the Amercian worker. If anyone has heard of George Lippard these days, it is usually as 'a close friend of Poe's.' Indeed, he was among Poe's closest and most devoted of friends, but to ignore the enormous strides Lippard made, not only in literature but in political and social action, is to ignore the immense significance of George Lippard's short life. His "Monk's Hall" was the first American muckraking novel, and as the forerunner of both Upton Sinclair and Ayn Rand, he is vastly underrated. In addition, while Lippard's novels did indeed make him a wealthy man, all of his money was put back into his B.O.A. Labor Union, while he and his family lived entirely hand-to-mouth. Certainly, George Lippard deserves far more credit from the Labor movements in America, as well as from serious literary scholars.

Why Poe Left Philadelphia

Despite the poor quality of this photo, the air of mystique of Saratoga Springs and the Barhyte Trout Farms, is still apparent. The Barhyte Trout Ponds were the most attractive retreats of their time, especially for Poe and his crowd. N.P. Willis, Fanny Osgood, Marguerite St. Leon Loud, Henry Hirst and Susan Fenimore Cooper were all frequenters of Saratoga Springs, and the Trout Farms, with their quaint familial appeal, drew visitors by the drove.
Barhyte Ponds
Poe spent a great deal of time (apparently, two summers) staying at the Barhyte Trout Farms, as has been attested by Ann Barhyte's husband, John Barhyte. Barhyte stated that Poe spent much of his time there working on "The Raven," with Ann Barhyte's help. This sounds like a cover up for Poe's infatuation with Ann Barhyte, who was a poet who wrote for N.P. Willis's "Daily Mirror," under the pseudonym, "Tabitha." Poe's closeness to Ann Barhyte, who died in 1844, could provide clues to the question most Poe scholars still obsess on: why Poe left Philadelphia in such a rush in 1844.

George Rex Graham

George Rex Graham

Editor & Publisher
    of Graham's Magazine

George Rex Graham was one of Poe's greatest mentors and supporters. Graham was born in Philadelphia, on January 18, 1813, making him four years younger than Poe. In 1839, Graham was admitted to the bar, though his interests were far more literarily inclined. Soon afterwards, he was asked to become the editor of the Saturday Evening Post, and afterwards, became one of its proprietors. His relations with this journal continued until 1846.

In 1839, Graham began publishing a monthly magazine called, The Casket, which he published until 1841, when uniting with it The Gentleman's Magazine, he began publication of Graham's Magazine.

On February 20, 1841, Graham announced in The Saturday Evening Post that Edgar Allan Poe had been made editor of Graham's Magazine, beginning with the April issue.

During Poe's tenure, the circulation of Graham's Magazine increased from about 5,000 to nearly 37,000 subscribers, making it far and away the most popular periodical of its day. Its contributors included Hawthorne, Henry Hirst, H.W. Longfellow, Fanny Osgood, Emma Embury, James Russell Lowell, N.P. Willis, and many other friends of Edgar A. Poe.

As editor of Graham's Magazine, Poe published revised versions of The Coliseum, To Helen, and Israfel. Poe's fiction, however, became more widely recognized than his poems. He published at least one story/tale of his own every month. Among many others, Graham's Magazine debuted Poe's, Never Bet Your Head, The Island of the Fay and, A Descent into the Maelström.

For reasons that have never become clear, Poe was either replaced by Graham in May of 1842, or Poe left the position for his own reasons, as he detailed to his friend, F.W. Thomas:

"The report of my having parted with Graham is correct. . . My duties ceased with the May number. I shall continue to contribute occasionally. . . My reason for resigning was disgust with the namby-pamby character of the Magazine -- a character which it was impossible to eradicate -- I allude to the contemptible pictures, fashion plates, music and love tales."

It would be easy to simply believe Poe's comments to Thomas, but the fact is, Poe dissembled, or used a kind of code, when writing to his friends. In some cases, Poe dissembled simply because he didn't want the truth of a situation known. In other cases, he often used a very complex code, that could only be deciphered by his closest friends and associates.


Even by 1842, Poe was in fear that his mail would be intercepted and never reach its destination. This fear was shared by most of the Poe coterie. They were all very cautious about what they wrote to anyone. Even a hasty examination of the letters of James Russell Lowell shows that he lived in mortal terror for his own life and the lives of his family. Lowell rarely divulged anything that was really happening to him or his family in his letters, even when they were under the most severe attack. Instead, he wrote in dense code.

It was the social and political work of the Poe coterie that made these fears a reality, not paranoia by any means. It was also very much about business and publishing deals, including ghost-writing, translating foreign works and book piracy.

Consequently, we must 'read between the lines' always, not only in Poe's own letters, but in the letters of his friends and enemies as well, to try and grasp what was really going on at that point of their lives.

It is absurd to think that with Poe having so dramatically increased the readership of Graham's, that George Rex Graham would even think of firing him. For Poe, Graham's was a very comfortable situation, since he and Graham got along very well and respected each other. Poe had his own venue to promote, not only his own writing career, but also the careers of his writer and artist friends.

In May of 1842, Poe had no other editing job prospects, and it would seem absurd for him to simply bow out of Graham's with no steady work in sight, especially since the editorship of Graham's made him famous, not only in Philadelphia, but all over the 'literary world.'

Also, the reasons Poe cites in his letter to Thomas for leaving Graham's make very little sense. He mentions hating the fashion plates (which bore he and Virginia's images), as well as the art in the magazine, much of which was executed by Poe's close friends. For the most part, the engravings in Graham's were quite good, many excellent. As a lover of art, Poe could have no objections to the majority of engravings that appeared in the magazine. For my POV on the Fashion Plates, see the Grahams Fashion Plates section.

As far as the music in Graham's, much of it was by Thomas Moore and other composers of the period of whom Poe was extremely fond. Poe sang very well, and Virginia played the piano and sang too. and Poe was fond of all types of music. I don't believe that the music, art or fashion plates in Graham's was objectionable to Poe.

I believe the 'key' to really understanding what was going on 'behind the scenes,' is Poe's 'coded comments' about the "namby-pamby character of the Magazine -- a character which it was impossible to eradicate."

Here, I feel, is the 'truth' of why Poe left Graham's. In Poe's vocabulary, "namby-pamby" meant effete, or ostentatiously gay. Poe was the last man on earth who could be called a 'homophobe.' Many of his closest friends were gay or bi-sexual, and if anything, Poe was more attracted to the artistic/ bi-sexual types/ gay types, as he was by the lives and writings of Lord Byron, Shelley and Keats, who were all gay or bi-sexual.

But here, the person or 'character' who was "impossible to eradicate" was Poe's sometime friend, but more often enemy, Rufus Griswold. Griswold was gay, but Poe didn't care about people's sexual orientations. What he hated was that Griswold was a 'ferret,' a maniacal control freak, with far more skeletons in his closet than even Poe.

During Poe's editorship there were many contributions by Griswold, as well as Poe's other chief arch-enemy, Elizabeth Fries Ellet. Poe must have felt at this time, that it was better to keep his enemies disarmed, especially too such dangerous, well connected enemies.

Poe's statement about this "character who was impossible to eliminate" seems to mean that it was impossible to get rid of Griswold, and that Graham didn't want him as editor at all, but that Griswold was foisted upon him by his very powerful friends, who wanted to take over control of Graham's Magazine however they could.

George Rex Graham, as well as virtually everyone on the staff of Graham's, (Ann S. Stephens, Emma Embury and Charles Peterson) detested and feared Griswold. But Editor, Ann S. Stephens is the one who 'blew the whistle' on some of Griswold's most revolting personal behavior, including his marrying a man who dressed like a woman, while abandoning his own wife, who died tragically. Griswold wouldn't allow his wife's body to be buried, as he was so guilt-stricken over his treatment of her with his 'second wife.' There was no respect for Griswold or his work, by any of these Grahams' editors.

My sense of what actually happened at Graham's is that Griswold, possibly in conjunction with Samuel Dewees Patterson, pulled a coup on Graham, most likely a financial coup, which Graham must have been unable to refuse. Griswold himself was the go-between for powerful and wealthy investors, looking to gain control of the nation's hottest selling magazine, and Patterson had his eye on taking control of Graham's away from Graham for a long time. For Griswold, to become the editor of Graham's, as well as to take the job away from Poe, must have been a dream come true for him!

However, after the all-out attacks on his character propagated by the staff of Graham's, Griswold himself felt compelled to withdraw from editing Graham's in October, 1843. It's doubtful whether Graham would have had the nerve to let him go.

1843 became the year that Graham's Magazine came under attack by both Poe and George Lippard.

An article called Our Magazine Literature, appeared in Park Benjamin's, The New World (New York) [March 11, 1843, pp. 302-304]. Though the authorship of this article has been questioned, T.O. Mabbott, in the annals of his 1969 edition of Poe's Poems, stated that, "At some time in 1843, Poe visited New York City, where on March 11, he published pseudonymously in Park Benjamin's weekly, The New World, a bitter attack on 'The Magazines'." In these annals, Mabbott stated that he had intended to include this article in his collected edition of Poe's works as, "obviously by Poe." I agree with Mabbott that the style, tone, verbiage and opinions stated in this article make it "quite obviously by Poe." In this article, we can see that Poe sticks very closely by George Rex Graham, only a year after his having left Graham's employ. However, his comments about Griswold ("the nominal editor of Graham's," show that their vendetta against each other was in full force:

The most popular of all the magazines is that published by Mr. Graham, who is a practical business man and a friend to men of talents of every ilk. Every article which he prints is liberally paid for, and he has the honor of patronizing a large number of eminent writers in prose and verse, more than any other publisher in the country. Can we say more in his favor or in favor of his magazine?

Neither do we like the nominal editor of Graham's Magazine. And why? Mr. Rufus W. Griswold is wholly unfit, either by intellect or character, to occupy the editorial chair of Graham's Magazine.

Other Poe scholars have questioned Poe's authorship of this very important attack on "the Magazines," because a story has 'made the rounds' that really, Charles Lanman, of The New World, was really the author. This doesn't hold true, because Lanman could not, and did not, write like Poe. More importantly, Park Benjamin, one of the most powerful of publishers, and a very close friend to Poe, was also first cousin to Charles Lanman, and if Benjamin told Lanman to 'suggest' that he was the author, not Poe, Lanman would have been happy to take credit, - not only because the work was by such an excellent writer as Poe, but because it was in the defiant, abusive style of Poe's criticism, which Park Benjamin himself sought to emulate. Like Poe, Benjamin was an 'anything for publicity' kind of guy, and this piece was much talked about,and got both Park Benjamin's name and The New World itself, mentioned in many of the periodicals of the day. Especially the ones that Poe 'tomahawked.'

As I will be showing in my book, it was quite frequent that Poe allowed others to take credit for his own work, for a variety of reasons. This is but one important example.

Emilio De Grazia, in his article, Poe's Devoted Democrat, George Lippard, from Poe Studies, vol. VI, no. 1, [June 1973, pp. 6-8] reprinted on the Poe Society's official website, tells us that in 1843, when Lippard wrote his notorious series of articles about the 'magazine world,' he felt that not only were Graham, Griswold and Charles D. Peterson the "Overlords of Graham's," but he adds Samuel Dewees Patterson into the mix! This is fascinating, as I haven't been able to establish any financial connections between S.D. Patterson and Graham's until 1848. Apparently, Lippard knew a great deal about the "Overlords of Graham's," and claimed a distinct connection between the financial control of Grahams with S.D. Patterson as early as 1843. This is why I feel that it was S.D. Patterson who bought up substantial enough interest in Grahams Magazine that he dictated who should be its editor.

That Lippard began his tirades against Philadelphia-based publishers in May of 1843, and that these critical papers ended in October, 1843, the same month Griswold withdrew from editorship of Grahams, cannot be mere coincidence. Griswold had been so humiliated by Poe's article in The New World, by Ann S. Stephens, accusations against his personal life, and then, by Poe's cohort, George Lippard, in both The Spermaceti Papers and The Walnut-Coffin Papers, must have driven Griswold out of the editorship of Graham's to avoid any further public humiliation.

Lippards' two 'series' contained thinly disguised caricatures of the Graham group. For our purposes here, it is important to note that Lippard particularly denounces "Spermaceti Sam" (Samuel D. Patterson), indicating that both Poe and Lippard were quite aware that Patterson and Griswold were plotting to take over Graham's Magazine.
Poe featured in an ad for Bell's Whisky, 1952, from the collection of Cynthia Cirile.
Poe featured in an ad for Bell's Whisky, 1952,
from the collection of Cynthia Cirile.
Poe's "The Bells" written c.1845

By 1848, however, S.D. Patterson's involvement with Graham's became impossible to deny. George Rex Graham's resources had been severely depleted by poor stock investments. Samuel D. Patterson finally succeeded in gaining a major interest in Graham's, though he kept Graham on as a figurehead. In the years 1849-51, it was Charles Peterson who provided the money to wrestle control of Graham's from Patterson and back to George Graham.

Graham wrote, in an open letter to his subscribers, that he would work for the "redemption" of the great periodical that bore his name.

"What a daring enterprise business can do, I have already shown in Graham's Magazine and the North American and alas! - I have also shown what folly can do when business is forgotten; but I can yet show the world that he who started as a poor boy with but eight dollars in his pocket, and who has run such a career as mine, is hard to be put down by the calumnies or ingratitude of any."

But, even with Peterson's aid, Graham only managed to retain financial control of the magazine until 1851. The loss of the magazine bearing his name was devastating to George Graham, who was forced to admit that his career was over, thanks to S.D. Patterson's 'take over,' and he retired in penury, - a terrible end for such a remarkable career, indeed.


Poe and Graham liked each other far more than has ever been known. Graham thought Poe a true genius, and allowed him to publish virtually anything he wanted, of his own or of his friends. He even helped Poe try to get his own magazine, called The Stylus (or The Penn) that, unfortunately, Poe never managed to get off the ground.

It has been thought that Poe liked Graham personally, but had trouble working with him. There may be some truth in that, but if so, Graham never lost his keen appreciation, and even dedication, to Poe. In March, 1850, George Graham printed his mournful memoriam to Poe, The Late Edgar Allan Poe. Graham also wrote the introduction to a posthumous edition of, Poems by Edgar Allan Poe, New York: H. M. Caldwell, 1850. Graham's introduction was given along with an article about Poe by N.P. Willis.

What has not been generally known is that it was Graham who was Poe's staunchest supporter in print. After Poe's death Graham's Magazine became a 'Pro-Poe' vehicle in and of itself. Virtually every story, poem, editorial and editorial cartoon was about Poe and the people who had caused him grief. I have analyzed Graham's Magazine thoroughly for this time frame and found that Graham's had become a virtual Paean to the lost Poe and the lost friends and family that had so deeply impacted those working with Graham.

Graham himself wrote far more about Poe than the article in the March, 1850, edition. These pieces show Graham's fervent devotion to Poe, as well as to Fanny Osgood, who died on May 12, 1850, only six months after the death of her lover, Poe. She was followed to the grave by her two remaining daughters, Lily and May, only months after their mother. Her child with Poe, Fanny Fay, had been born on June 28th, 1846, only seven months before the death of Virginia Poe, but the fragile child died in Oct 1847, only eight months after Virginia's death.

Fanny Osgood and her daughters, Lily and May, died under highly suspicious of circumstances. That Rufus Griswold claimed that he was at Fanny's deathbed only incited further rumors of Griswold's involvement with both Poe's and Fanny's demise. Griswold worked energetically to combat these rumors by numerous eulogies to Fanny, whom he adored. Yet, there's something very wrong with how things unfolded for the Osgood women.

After Poe's death, Graham and Peterson worked with an energetic team of Poe supporters: James Russell Lowell, Lambert Wilmer, Henry Hirst, Park Benjamin, Emma Embury, NP Willis, and many others, to blast as many 'rotten eggs' as they could at the unscrupulous people involved with Poe's death, or with the take over of Graham's. Though unsigned, I believe that most of the political cartoons from this era are from the often scathing pen of Poe enthusiast, FOC Darley. Together, this group formed a powerful coalition and kept people apprized as to the truth behind the tragic deaths of Poe, Fanny Osgood and many others.

It was not only Poe who died under mysterious circumstances around this time. Only weeks after Poe's demise, Poe's close friend, Philip Pendleton Cooke, often called "the Virginian," because of his prowess on horseback and shooting, died by "drowning in a pool of low water." The explanations for Cooke's death, at the age of 34, were absurd. It has not been known or suspected, that Cooke had very close ties to Fanny Osgood and her children, making his sudden death at this same time period even more suspicious.

The 'mysterious deaths' of JR Lowell's children, Blanche and Walter, and his wife, Maria White, crushed Lowell. The sudden insanity of Charles Fenno Hoffman occurred in 1849, and he spent the rest of his life at the State Hospital at Harrisburg, PA. This news was especially unbearable for his friend, lover and partner, Park Benjamin, who was very close to Fanny Osgood and Poe. After so many tragedies, Park Benjamin's retired from the magazine world to a farm in 1850. Poe's close friend, John Tomlin, also died in 1850, at a very young age.

Margaret Fuller, a one time 'associate' of Poe's, but far better known as an enemy, not only to Poe, but also to JR Lowell and Nathaniel Hawthorne, also died under bizarre circumstances when her ship (which ostensibly was filled with pirated books) came into dock in Boston harbor and suddenly caught on fire. Most people were very happy to see her go through the fire, since she had herself 'fired upon' just about everyone she knew and was a very dangerous person.

George Lippard married in 1847, but tragically, his first child, a daughter, died in 1849. Lippard himself had been under constant attack for many years, because of his 'muck-raising' politics and writings. He frequently went around with a bodyguard because he was so likely to become the victim of political assassination. Another child was born to the Lippards, who died just before his mother, in May of 1851. Only Lippard remained. However, he didn't last long, as died on February 9, 1854, just before he turned 32 years old. Finally, all the 'dangerous Lippards' had been extinguished.

Yes, children, young men and women, often died young in the 19th century. But the sheer quantity of deaths here, to people who seemed in fine health, are far higher than 'the norm.' Considering that so many of these victims were involved in secret political organizations and writing scathing attacks on publishers, book piracy and politics, made them natural victims of the Angel of Death. Poe, Lowell, Lippard and Cooke, in particular, were revolutionaries involved in secret political societies. That they would be targeted to die is understandable. In many cases, I believe, it was easier to eradicate a wife or child left unprotected than to 'take out' the actual 'offending party,' which is what I believe happened in many of these cases.

So, the journey of Graham's Magazine ended in tragedy. Graham lost control of the magazine to SD Patterson, and was utterly destroyed and humiliated. But the loss of so many close friends had a huge impact on the publisher, just as it had on Park Benjamin and Charles Fenno Hoffman. George Rex Graham was as true a man as ever lived, and he should have gotten 'the last laugh' over Patterson and all his enemies by turning the formerly 'pretty' Graham's into a vitriolic soldier of a magazine when he felt he needed to. In that sense, Graham was an honorable man. And so were they all, honorable men.

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