As Halloween approaches, a scarce signed letter from Edgar Allan Poe is selling among the top lots of an online auction.
The letter sees the macabre author temporarily out of his job as editor of the Southern Literary Messenger, the periodical which helped to establish his name within the literary world. His redundancy is due to bad health, though he was later discharged from the position after getting caught drunk by his seniors.
The letter is addressed to "Mr. Charles Ellis Sr. Present" and reads: "Do you think you could oblige me so far as to let me have the amount of $50 in dry goods, upon a credit of 4 months? If so, I would be greatly indebted to you, and my aunt will call down to choose such articles as she may wish." It is signed "Very resp'y, Edgar A. Poe."
Dated September 26, 1836, it shows the out of work Poe appealing to his adoptive father John Allan's best friend and former business partner, Charles Ellis, for a loan. Poe had recently returned to Richmond, Virginia with his cousin, the 13-year-old Virginia Clemm, whom he had recently married. She came with her mother (his aunt) in tow, placing further strain on the Poe finances.
The letter is in excellent condition, with just a small spot of paper loss to the second page caused by a wax seal. It is currently selling for $17,511, with bidding due to close on November 14.
Signed letters from Edgar Allan Poe always see excellent results at auction. In May, a letter he sent as editor of the Southern Literary Journal to the author of Mary had a Little Lamb sold for an impressive $164,250. The current world record for his work is held by Tamerlane and Other Poems, which brought $662,500 at Christie's in 2009.
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