Twain’s Letter About Edgar Allan Poe

in Classic Articles on Writing/Historic Articles by Authors

To W. D. Howells, in New York:

Jan.  18, ’09.

Dear Howells,

I have to write a line, lazy as I am, to say how your Poe article delighted me; and to say that I am in agreement with substantially all you say about his literature. To me his prose is unreadable—like Jane Austin’s. No, there is a difference. I could read his prose on salary, but not Jane’s. Jane is entirely impossible. It seems a great pity that they allowed her to die a natural death.

Another thing: you grant that God and circumstances sinned against Poe, but you also grant that he sinned against himself—a thing which he couldn’t do and didn’t do.

It is lively up here now. I wish you could come.

Yrs ever,

Richard Edwards has a BFA in Creative Writing and Journalism from Bowling Green State University and an M.S. in Education from the University of Akron. Managing editor of Drunk Duck, poetry editor for Prairie Margins, reporter for Miscellany, Akron Journal, Lorain Journal...check our About Us page for more. Also here is info on our On Classic Articles


  1. I’m here to announce that both Edgar & Samuel were in fact related. Very distantly. But still related. My family is very proud to enstate that Samuel is apart of my family. He was my 5x great uncle. Recently searching my family tree I stumbled across a Maria Clemens who is undoubtedly Poe’s adoptive mother. Which in turn was Samuel’s distant cousin. Though they aren’t related by blood, it is still amazing to be the one to come to this conclusion. Both Samuel and Edgar are distant cousins, adoptively.

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