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Henry Beck Hirst

(Born: August 23, 1813 - Died: March 30, 1874)

American lawyer, author and poet. Hirst, with Poe's assistance, was the author of the biographical article published in the Philadelphia newspaper the Saturday Museum for February 25, 1843. So popular was the article that it was reprinted on March 4, 1843. This article is full of misleading information and as such is of value mostly as a curiosity.

At one time, Hirst ran a store for exotic birds, and owned a pet raven (Mabbott, Poems, p. 355). Hirst contributed poems to the Southern Literary Messenger, The Broadway Journal and other periodicals.

Hirst wrote a parody of Poe's "The Haunted Palace" called "The Ruined Tavern," which apparently enraged Poe (Woodberry, Life of Poe, 1909, p. 420).

Poe reviewed Hirst's collection of poems The Coming of the Mammoth (1845).

Another notice of Hirst by Poe was included by Griswold in volume III of The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe (p. 212). This article, which Poe may have intended should never be published, he accused Hirst of plagiarism in the poem "Penance of Roland."

In his later years, Hirst became quite insane.

Hirst's collections of papers, sold by the Anderson Gallery on May 11, 1921, included manuscripts for Poe's poems "Eulalie" (1844) and "Annabel Lee" (1849). The "Annabel Lee" manuscript is now in the Henry E. Huntington Library.

Henry Beck Hirst

Criticism (Texts and Variant Texts)
  • "Henry B. Hirst"
    • "[Henry B. Hirst]"  (@1848, text "A" — "Stedman" manuscript) (This manuscript was prepared as part of Poe's "Marginalia" series.)
    • "Henry B. Hirst"  (@1849, text "B" — "Griswold" manuscript roll) (This version was printed by Griswold in Works, 1850)
    • "Henry B. Hirst"  (1850, text "C" — Works)


  • Duyckinck, E. A. and G. L., "Henry B. Hirst," Cyclopedia of American Literature, New York: Charles Scribner, 1856, 2:591-592
  • Heartman, Charles F. and James R. Canny, A Bibliography of First Printings of the Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, Hattiesburg, MS: The Book Farm, 1943.
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, ed., The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (Vols 2-3 Tales and Sketches), Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1978. (Second printing 1979)
  • Thomas, Dwight and David K. Jackson, The Poe Log: A Documentary Life of Edgar Allan Poe 1809-1849, Boston: G. K. Hall & Sons, 1987.
  • Watts, Helen Lucille, The Life and Writings of Henry Beck Hirst of Philadelphia, unpublished master's thesis for Columbia University, NY, May 1925 (149 pages)

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