The Museum Collection

Rufus Griswold Letter to John Keese

ID #:
Creator: Rufus W. Griswold
Date: May 3, 1843
Format: Letter
Source: Gift of Fayetta H. and Alberta W. Laighton
Collection: Poe Foundation, Inc.
Place of Publication:
Publish Date:


As was a practice at the time, this letter is written on mourning stationery to indicate that the writer has lost a loved one. By the time of the writing, the writer, Rufus Griswold had lost a wife and a son and was sending this letter of consolation to the editor John Keese, who had recently lost a son. The black border on the page indicates that it is mourning stationery.

Rufus Wilmot Griswold (1815-1857) is best known today as Edgar Allan Poe's literary executor who was the first to collect and publish Poe's works after the author's death. Griswold's edition of the works of Poe contained a short biography which contained a negatively distorted image of Poe probably intended to permanently damage Poe's reputation. Griswold's obituary of Poe was so negative and potentially libelous he first published it anonymously.

John Keese (1805-1856) was a New York author, bookseller, and editor. He was an editor for The Opal, which published Poe's essay "Morning on the Wissahiccon."

The text of the letter (in part) reads:

"Philad a 3d May 1843

My Dear Keese,
Our friends Hoffman and Tuckerman have advised me of the great affliction that has befallen you. I sympathize with you and your admirable wife very deeply, but I have no words by which to give utterance to my feelings. He was a --- boy, and I am hard to part with him, but he had not got --- that way which leads to a more terrible death; and he lives in Heaven, a --- and a --- being than the world contains. "O that my children had all died in their childhood" said an --- --- to me a few days ago "that I might look with faith to a reunion with them in the better country." I, too, have a son, as well as a wife, with God, and may we and all who are dear to us finally "sit down with ---, ---------------------------, --- any kind of sorrow."
My --- the for a --- or two ----- to go to New York and see you. Remember me to Mrs. K. and believe me
Yours very truly,

R.W. Griswold

Jo Jon Keese, Esq"

This manuscript was once in the autograph album of Lucy Dorothea Henry Laighton. Laighton's daughters gave the album, which also included some Poe manuscripts in addition to the autographs of over 250 other celebrities, to the Poe Museum in 1928.