Mr. Poe Regrets

This Saturday marks the opening of “From Out That Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Edgar Allan Poe,” a exhibit at the University of Virginia designed to commemorate the author’s 200th birthday. Among the artifacts featured is a recently discovered 1842 letter from Poe to his publishers, apologizing for being drunk that last time they hung out together, hitting them up for a chance to be published, and generally behaving like a magazine intern. The News Leader (Staunton, Va.) explains:

In the letter, written in July 1842, Poe apologizes to publishers J. and H.G. Langley for his drunken behavior. He encloses an article he hopes the publishers will buy, as he is “desperately pushed for money.” He also blames a friend, poet and lawyer William Ross Wallace, for making him drink too many “juleps” and tries to make amends for the unfortunate result: “Will you be so kind enough to put the best possible interpretation upon my behavior while in N-York? You must have conceived a queer idea of me – but the simple truth is that Wallace would insist upon the juleps, and I knew not what I was either doing or saying.”

The Langleys rejected the piece. Insofar as Wikipedia is trustworthy on the matter, 1842 was a rough year for Poe: That year his wife, Virginia, suffered a bout of tuberculosis that drove him to begin drinking heavily. The exhibit runs through Aug. 1 first at the University of Virginia Library’s Harrison Institute, after which it will move to the University of Texas’ Ransom Center, which helped assemble the exhibit.

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