University of Virginia Library University of Virginia
Early American Fiction Collection

Early American Fiction Collection

Edgar Allan Poe:
The Literati of New York City: Some Honest Opinions at Random Respecting Their Autorial Merits, with Occasional Words of Personality.

From May to October 1846, Godey's Lady's Book published a series of 38 sketches by Edgar Allan Poe entitled "The Literati of New York City: Some Honest Opinions at Random Respecting Their Autorial Merits, with Occasional Words of Personality." In these sketches, Poe gave his "unbiased opinion of the literati (male and female) of New York," and "at the same time, very closely if not with absolute accuracy, that of conversational society in literary circles." In his introduction, Poe argues that what was being said in these literary circles was more valid than those opinions published in journals of the day. Many of the authors discussed by Poe have long since been forgotten but most of his opinions of the better-known authors have been borne out by the judgment of time.

Because of their high degree of candor, Poe's sketches shocked the readership of Godey's and the literary world in general. From the standpoint of the circulation manager, the series was a great success; the May issue of Godey's sold out by the first of May. The series created a flurry of responses by the public.

In 1850, Rufus Griswold collected all of the literati papers and published them as Volume III of The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe. Seventy-eight authors are discussed in the complete Literati.

The Literati has given us one of many potential frameworks around which we can arrange our Early American Fiction editions: one that will highlight both prominent and lesser-known authors.

Quotations from The Literati will be linked to the works themselves, including such well-known works as The Last of the Mohicans, The Scarlet Letter, and Poe's Tales, but would also include more obscure works such as The Adventures of Harry Franco or Forest Life. We will include all the works of Poe, Cooper, Longfellow, and Hawthorne that fall within the scope of the EAF project. For the lesser known authors, we will use works mentioned by Poe in The Literati or a work selected from the EAF list if no work is specifically mentioned.

The Literati sample includes seventeen of eight-one EAF authors, or 50 of the 441 EAF works (in 560 volumes).

--Heather Moore


Poe, Edgar Allan

Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque

"X-ing a Paragrab"


The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. Comprising the Details of a Mutiny and Atrocious Butchery on Board the American Brig Grampus on her Way to the South Seas, in the Month of June, 1827

Bird, Robert M.

Sheppard Lee

Hawks of Hawk Hollow

Brainard, John Gardner Calkins

Letters Found in the Ruins of Fort Braddock

Briggs, Charles F.

The Adventures of Harry Franco

Bryant, William Cullen

Tales of the Glauber-Spa (selection: The Skeleton's Cave)

Child, Lydia M.



Cooper, J. Fenimore

Last of the Mohicans

Jack Tier; or, The Florida Reef


The Deerslayer; or, The First Warpath

The Pathfinder; or, The Inland Sea

The Pilot: A Tale of the Sea

The Pioneers; or, The Sources of the Susquehanna

The Prairie

The Spy: A Tale of the Neutral Ground

The Water-Witch; or The Skimmer of the Seas

Wyandotte; or, the Hutted Knoll . . .

Dawes, Rufus

Nix's Mate

Hawthorne, Nathaniel

The Scarlet Letter

Twice Told Tales

Selections from Moral Tales

Selections from Tales for the Times

Selections from Tales of Humor

Selection from Tales for You

Fanshawe: A Tale . . .

Mosses from an Old Manse . . .

The Celestial Railroad . . .

The Gentle Boy . . .

Hoffman, Charles Fenno


Irving, Washington

Tales of a Traveller

Kirkland, Caroline M.

Forest Life

A New Home

Longfellow, Henry

The Bald Eagle - from Tales of Humor

Hyperion: A Romance . . .

Kavanagh: A Tale . . .

Outre-Mer: A Pilgrimage beyond the Sea. No. I

Sargent, Epes


Sedgwick, Catherine M.

Hope Leslie

New England Tale

The Linwoods

Simms, William

Martin Faber


The Wigwam and the Cabin

Richard Hurdis

Willis, N. P.

Romance of Travel