Edgar Allan Poe — “The Oval Portrait”





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Date - Under development.


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Reading and Reference Texts:

Reading copy:

  • “The Oval Portrait” — reading copy


Historical Texts:

Manuscripts and Authorized Printings:

  • Text-01 — “Life in Death” — 1842, no original manuscript or fragments are known to exist (but this version is presumably recorded in Text-02)
  • Text-02 — “Life in Death” — April 1842 — Graham’s Magazine — (Mabbott text A)
  • Text-03 — “The Oval Portrait” — 1842 — TGAPP (manuscript of title only) — (The tale is listed, under its new title, in Poe’s handwritten table of contents, but the text itself no longer survives. It was probably a modified version of the printed text from Graham’s Magazine, and is presumably recorded, with perhaps a few additional changes made in proof, in Text-04)
  • Text-04 — “The Oval Portrait” — April 26, 1845 — Broadway Journal — (Mabbott text B) (For Griswold’s 1850 reprinting of this text, see the entry below, under reprints.)



  • “The Oval Portrait” — May 1, 1845 — Morning News (New York)  (This reprint from Text-04 was first noted by Claude Richard, p. 54)
  • “The Oval Portrait” — May 10, 1845 — Weekly News (New York)  (This reprint from Text-04 was first noted by Tanselle, p. 252)
  • “The Oval Portrait” — July 9, 1845 — Albany Patriot (Albany, NY) (back page) (The newspaper is noted as being strongly abolitionist)
  • The Oval Portrait” — 1850 — WORKS — Griswold reprints Text-04  (Mabbott text C)  (This is Mabbott’s copy-text)
  • “The Oval Portrait” — May 5, 1865 — Columbia Phoenix (Columbia, SC) (the story begins on the front page)
  • “The Oval Portrait” — 1867 — Prose Tales of Edgar Allan Poe, first series (New York: W. J. Widdleton), pp. 366-369 (This collection is extracted from the 1850-1856 edition of Poe’s Works. It was reprinted several times.)
  • “The Oval Portrait” — 1874 — Works of Edgar A. Poe, edited by J. H. Ingram, vol. 1, pp. 279-283 (This collection was subsequently reprinted in various forms)
  • “The Oval Portrait” — January 1954 — Malcom’s Magazine — (a pulp magazine featurning tales of murder, mystery and detection)


Scholarly and Noteworthy Reprints:

  • “The Oval Portrait” — 1894-1895 — The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 1: Tales, eds. E. C. Stedman and G. E. Woodberry, Chicago: Stone and Kimball (1:169-173)
  • The Oval Portrait” — 1902 — The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 4: Tales III, ed. J. A. Harrison, New York: T. Y. Crowell (4:245-249, and 4:316-319)
  • Life in Death (The Oval Portrait)” — 1978 — The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 2: Tales & Sketches I, ed. T. O. Mabbott, Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (2:659-667)
  • “The Oval Portrait” — 1984 — Edgar Allan Poe: Poetry and Tales, ed. Patrick F. Quinn (New York: Library of America), pp. 481-484


Comparative and Study Texts:

Instream Comparative and Study Texts:


Associated Material and Special Versions:

Miscellaneous Texts and Related Items:

  • “Le portrait ovale” — (French translation by William Little Hughes)
    • “Le portrait ovale” — March 6, 1856 — L‘Ami de la Maison  (with an illustration by Auguste Rocinet.)
    • “Le portrait ovale” — June 12, 1856 — Le Mousquetaire
    • “Le portrait ovale” — 1885 — Oeuvres Choisies d‘Edgar Pöe, Paris: A. Hennuyer
  • “Le portrait ovale” — (French translation by Charles Baudelaire)
    • “Le portrait ovale” — January 28, 1855 — Le Pays
    • “Le portrait ovale” — 1857 — Nouvelles histoires par Edgar Poe, Paris: Michel Lévy frères
  • “[The Oval Portrait]” — 1868 — Phantastiske Fortaellinger [Fantastic Tales] (Copenhagen)  (Danish translation by Robert Watt, noted by Anderson, p. 15)
  • “Het Ovale Portret” — about 1930 — Fantastische Vertellingen van Edgar Allan Poe, Haarlem: H. D. Tjeenk Willink & Zoon (Dutch translation by Machiel Elias Barentz, with elaborate illustrations by Albert Hahn, somewhat reminiscent of those by Harry Clarke)
  • “The Oval Portrait” — 2008 — Audio book (unabridged), read by Chris Aruffo



  • Anderson, Carl L., Poe in Northlight: The Scandanavian Response to His Life and Work, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1973.
  • Cobb, Palmer, “The Influence of E. A. T. Hoffman on the Tales of Edgar Allan Poe,” Studies in Philology, 1908, 3:1-104
  • Dowell, Richard W., “The Ironic History of Poe’s ‘Life in Death’: A Literary Skeleton in the Closet,” American Literature (January 1971), 42:478-486.
  • Gross, Seymour, “Poe’s Revision of ‘The Oval Portrait’,” Modern Language Notes (January 1959), 74:16-20.
  • 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.
  • Richard, Claude, “Poe and ‘Young America’,” Studies in Bibliography (1968), 21:25-58.
  • Savoye, Jeffrey A., “Tintoretto and ‘The Oval Portrait’,” Edgar Allan Poe Review vol. 14, no. 2 (Autumn 2013), 233-234 (suggests a source for Poe’s story in “The Duke and Duchess of Medecis,” Athenaeum: Journal of English and Foreign Literature, Science and the Fine Arts [London], no. 252, August 25, 1832, pp. 547-548)
  • Tansell, G. Thomas, “Unrecorded Early Reprintings of Two Poe Tales,” Publications of the Bibliographical Society of America (2nd Quarter, 1962), 54:252.
  • Thompson, Gary Richard, “Dramatic Irony in ‘The Oval Portrait’: A Reconsideration of Poe’s Revisions,” English Language Notes (December 1968), 6:107-114.
  • Wyllie, John Cooke, “A List of the Texts of Poe’s Tales,” Humanistic Studies in Honor of John Calvin Metcalf, Charlottesville: University of Virginia, 1941, pp. 322-338.


[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Tales - The Oval Portrait