Written in the year of "Ulalume", one of Poe's most powerful tragic ballads

Poe, Edgar Allan, American writer (1809-1849). Autograph letter signed ("Edgar A. Poe").

New York, 31 Aug. 1847.

4to. 1 p. on bifolium with address on verso of fol. 2. Includes F. T. Stuart's 1885 steel-engraved portrait of the author.

Poe's final letter to the Philadelphia lawyer and playwright Robert Taylor Conrad (1810-58), of "Graham's Magazine": "It is now a month since I wrote you about the two articles I left with you - but, as I have heard nothing from you, I can only suppose that my letter has not reached you - or, at all events, that, in the press of other business, you have forgotten it and me. In it, after thanking you (as I do again most sincerely) for your late kindness to me in Phil[adelphi]a, I begged an answer in respect to the articles - mentioning $40 as the sum in which the Magazine would be indebted to me in case of their acceptance, and asking permission to draw for that amount.

I owed Mr. Graham $50 (as nearly as I can remember) and the papers, at the old price, would come to 90. May I beg of you to reply, as soon as convenient [...]". Not quite a month previously, on August 10, Poe had written to Conrad about the two articles he had offered to "Graham's Magazine" during his last visit to Philadelphia, where he had travelled to reestablish his magazine contacts: "[...] I obtained an advance of $10 from Mr G[raham] in order that I might return home at once - and thinking it, also, more proper to leave you time in which to look over the articles. I would be deeply obliged if you could now give me an answer respecting them. Should you take both, it will render me, just now, the most important service. I owe Mr G. about $50. The articles, at the old price ($4 per page) will come to $90 - so that, if you write me that they are accepted, I propose to draw on Mr G. for $40 - thus squaring our account [...]". During this stay in Philadelphia, Poe had been taken seriously ill, and Conrad had provided assistance. In the same letter of August 10, Poe had thanked the lawyer for his "considerate kindness": "[...] Without your aid, at the precise moment and in the precise manner in which you rendered it, it is more than probable that I should not now be alive to write you this letter [...]".

Traces of original folds. Recipient's notes on address sheet: "Edgar A. Poe / Answered / Paid".

Provenance: formerly in the collection of Capt. Pleadwell and in the Doheny collection; donated to Saint John's Seminary, Camarillo, CA, by Countess E. Doheny (c. 1940), but sold at the 1988 Doheny auction at Christie's (lot 1546).

The portrait, originally published as the frontispiece to George E. Woodberry’s "Edgar Allan Poe" (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1885), was engraved by Frederick T. Stuart, active in Boston from 1857 until his death in 1913. Stuart based his engraving on a daguerreotype lent him by Woodberry’s occasional collaborator E. C. Stedman, apparently the one now owned by the Henry E. Huntington Library.