Knowing Poe: The Literature, Life and Times of Edgar Allan Poe... In Baltimore and Beyond

Maryland Public Television
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Poe's Baltimore Letters
Random Raven
Some things to notice about the letters
The punctuation, abbreviations, and word spellings were transcribed exactly as they were written.
If you see [ . . .] around a group of words, it means those words have been added as an explanation. They were not in the original letter.
Poe sometimes used standard abbreviations as he wrote.

"yr Ob. St" means "Your obedient servant." It was considered a polite closing for a letter.

"Octo" means "October."

"Novr" means "November."

"Decr" means "December."

"Balt" means "Baltimore."

"Yours affecty" means "Yours affectionately," another polite way to close a letter.

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In Poe's time, people did not have many ways to communicate with each other. Just think about it. There was no telephones, e-mail, faxes, pagers, or text messaging devices. People relied on letters to stay in touch. That's why letters from this time are so important to our understanding of these times and the people that lived in them.

Poe was a prolific letter writer and, luckily, people throughout the country still have many of the letters he wrote. You can look over some of Poe's actual letters in this site's Primary Source documents section. Many people have said that Poe's handwriting was very neat and well-constructed. In Poe's time, people often studied and practiced handwriting in school. A neat "hand" was considered to be the sign of a well-educated person.

The letters in this section are exact transcriptions of some of the letters Poe sent during the years he lived in Baltimore. They give you some idea of what he was thinking about and what he was doing during that time.

Letters courtesy of the Enoch Pratt Free Library