In October, 1936, the Enoch Pratt Free Library received from Miss Margaret Cheston Carey of Baltimore a gift of manuscripts, books and other printed material relating to Edgar Allan Poe. These letters and documents, thus finally assured of permanent preservation, are all that remain of the family papers of Edgar Allen Poe, which were in Mrs. Clemm's possession at the time of his death.
When Mrs. Maria Clemm, Poe's aunt and mother-in-law, died at the Church Home and Infirmary in Baltimore, February 16, 1871, by her last request Neilson Poe received her scant personal possessions, including all Edgar's papers she had been able to retain since his death in 1849. Neilson Poe, her second cousin, was the grandson of her uncle, George Poe. He had been her most loyal friend and was one of the few members of the Poe family who aided Edgar in his lifetime and defended his reputation after his death. At the death of Neilson Poe, his daughter, Miss Amelia Fitzgerald Poe, cared for the collection and added to it a number of books, periodicals and newspaper excerpts relating to Poe. When she died she bequeathed the material to her nephew, the Reverend Neilson Poe Carey of Massachusetts. When Dr. Carey died in 1935 he left the collection to his sister with the instruction that it was to be placed in some public institution where it would receive expert care and would be open to inspection by scholars.
In addition to its intrinsic value and literary interest this collection has a special importance because of its personal associations with the poet. The few personal mementoes include a lock of his hair and one of Virginia's, several photographs, and pieces of bric-a-brac which Poe owned and handled.
All important manuscript items have been preserved in special mountings. Miss Amelia Poe had fastened a number of less significant letters and documents in a scrapbook, which has been kept unaltered, as has also her extensive volume of newspaper clippings. Among the Poe editions in the collection are the Raven and other poems of 1845 in the original paper cover, and the Tales of 1845. From time to time a selection of the manuscripts and books is exhibited in the Library's Edgar Allan Poe Room. This memorial to Poe, dedicated in 1933, is a small reading room on the second floor of the Central Library Building. Over the mantel hangs the original of the portrait which appears as the frontispiece of this volume, painted by Mr. Thomas C. Corner in 1933 after a prolonged study of the extant portraits and photographs of Poe.
After seven years, during which the manuscripts of the Amelia F. Poe collection have been examined by many students, scholars, and critics, the Trustees and Librarian decided that the most interesting items should be published. Dr. Arthur Hobson Quinn, John Welsh Centennial Professor of History and English Literature in the University of Pennsylvania, generously consented to supervise the preparation of this volume.