This edition of the Storytellers Channel’s newsletter features Chris Semtner, Curator, The Poe Museum, writing about The Tell-Tale Heart and highlighting an artifact from the museum’s collection.
I’m in the studio recording my next audio book of Poe’s Dead Bride stories, due to be released soon.
The Storytellers Channel
The Trouble with “The Tell-Tale Heart”
Although it is now Poe’s most popular short story and a favorite with audiences of all ages, “The Tell-Tale Heart” was initially a tough sell. Shortly after its completion, Poe brought the finished work to a magazine called the Boston Miscellany—which promptly rejected it. The editor responded that he would gladly publish something a little more “quiet.”
That was the worst news Poe could have received. With mounting debts and his wife’s terminal illness, Poe desperately needed every cent he could earn from his writing. For the past six months, he had been unemployed, surviving off the sale of his stories while struggling to find a new job. Shortly after the Miscellany rejected his work, Poe filed for bankruptcy.
Fortunately, Poe’s friend James Russell Lowell was starting a new magazine called The Pioneer and needed some content. Naturally, Lowell could not afford to pay him much, but Poe needed some cash and settled for the $10 Lowell was able to pay. It was probably just enough to pay his next month’s rent.
What’s Going On At Storytellers Channel
We’re working with some great people on this project. Charles George at Entrepreneur Impact and Matt Whitworth at Overcoast Recording. These fellows are making it possible for me to concentrate on telling great stories. Like most successful ventures it’s the team that’s the key to success. Oh, and don’t forget Edgar Allan Poe, he’s critical to this project. That said, I also want to thank Jaime Fawcett, Poe Museum’s Executive Director.
Next week, I’ll be in the studio recording three stories Chris Semtner calls the Dead Bride stories: Berenice, Morella and Ligeia. They are phenomenal and I’m pumped to get to do them.
I’ll keep you posted as we get closer to the release.
“The Tell-Tale Heart Manuscript”
This is the much sought-after first printing of “The Tell-Tale Heart” from the January 1843 issue of The Pioneer. The magazine went out of business after only three issues, making surviving copies especially scarce.
From the time the Poe Museum opened in 1922, it took over 90 years to add this first printing to its collection of rare Poe volumes. After finding it in a used book store in southwest Virginia, the museum purchased the periodical just in time to display it in January 2013—the 170th anniversary of the first printing of “The Tell-Tale Heart.”
For more information on Poe’s extraordinary life, visit The Poe Museum.