The Museum Collection

Manuscript for "The Genius and Character of Edgar Allan Poe" by John R. Thompson

ID #: 638
Creator: John Reuben Thompson
Date: ca.1860s
Format: 43 pages, sepia ink on blue ruled paper
Dimensions: 9.75" x 7.75"
Source: Gift of James Rindfleisch
Collection: Poe Foundation, Inc.
Place of Publication:
Publish Date:


This is the manuscript for a lecture on Edgar Allan Poe written and delivered by Poe's friend John R. Thompson (1823-1873). Internal evidence suggests the lecture may have been written about 1860. It is unknown how many times Thompson delivered the lecture. The lecture mentions the possibility that Poe died as the result of "cooping" the practice in which visitors to a city would be abducted, drugged, and used as a repeat voter during election time. Although there has never been a conculsive explaination for Poe's mysterious disappearance and death, the theory Thompson proposes is still a popular one. Although the author personally knew Edgar Allan Poe, the lecture tends to sensationalize some aspects of Poe's personality.

Thompson was the editor of the Southern Literary Messenger from 1847 until 1860 and was acquainted with Poe from September 1848 until Poe's death in October 1849. In 1860, Thompson moved to Augusta, Georgia, where he edited Southern Field and Fireside. In 1863, Thompson moved to London, where he lived for a few years and contributed to Blackwoods Magazine and the London Index. After returning to the United States in 1866, Thompson moved to New York, where he served as Literary Editor for The Evening Post. He died in 1873.

The manuscript was discovered in a New York book shop and purchased by James Rindfleisch, who along with James Whitty, published the lecture in 1929. Rindfleisch donated the piece to the Poe Museum in 1835.