Text: Thomas Ollive Mabbott, “Gaffy,” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. II: Tales and Sketches (1978), pp. 3-4 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 3, continued:]


During his stay at the University of Virginia, 1826-27, Poe tried his hand at composing tales in prose. The only account of them is that of Poe’s fellow student Thomas Goode Tucker, as recorded by Douglass Sherley, published in the Virginia University Magazine, April 1880, and quoted in James A. Harrison’s Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (1902), I, 42. More than fifty years elapsed between the events and publication of any record of them, but Tucker’s story of a cheerful tale is basically unsuspect. Pruned of some literary flourishes, it reads:

Poe showed his warm appreciation and high respect for his friend Tucker by reading to him the early productions of his youth, — productions that his critical hand afterwards destroyed, thinking them unfit for publication. Sometimes . . . he [page 4:] would call in a few of his friends and read . . . to them . . . They were mostly stories characterized by . . . weirdness of style. . . .

On one occasion Poe read a story of great length to some of his friends who, in a spirit of jest, spoke lightly of its merits, and jokingly told him that his hero’s name, “Gaffy,” occurred too often . . . Before his friends could prevent him, he had flung every sheet into a blazing fire, and thus was lost a story of more than ordinary parts which, unlike most of his stories, was intensely amusing, entirely free from his usual sombre coloring . . . He was for a long time afterwards called by those in his particular circle “Gaffy” Poe, a name he never altogether relished.

William Peterfield Trent in his unfinished and unpublished manuscript life of Poe observed that the description of the weirdness of many of these early stories might well be the result of perusal of Poe’s published productions. But this objection hardly can apply to Tucker’s recollection of the amusing story of Gaffy — an account of a cheerful story by Poe is not likely to be from imperfect memory or imagination. Although the title of the story is not specifically given, the nickname of its protagonist (which means “talkative”) is adopted here.





[S:1 - TOM2T, 1978] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (T. O. Mabbott) (Gaffy)