October 13

Bibliophiles, and particularly collectors of Poe, undoubtedly noted with chagrin the letter written upon this date in 1893 by Francis A. Teall, a retired proofreader of Bloomfield, New Jersey.

“Being on a visit to my son, F. Horace Teall, I came across a paragraph in your September number containing a statement that calls for explanation, to wit: ‘The proofreading department [of the new Standard English Dictionary] is in charge of the veteran proofreader F. Horace Teall, who says he remembers the proof of Poe’s Raven and throwing the manuscript in the wastebasket.’ Now, I suppose my son may fairly be called a veteran proofreader, his first experience in that line dating back some twenty years; but the ‘veteran proofreader who says he remembers’ etc., is myself, and the incident referred to occurred years before my son was born.

“The article containing the statement appears to have been going the rounds, for I saw it in the Philadelphia Press, while you quote from another paper. There I do not think it worth while to notice it; but among printers I would like to have the mistake rectified, for I take pleasure in the fact that I am a humble member of the craft, and have filled about every post in it—roller-boy, compositor, hand-pressman, proofreader, foreman, newspaper editor and publisher, and proprietor of a book office.

“It must have come about in this way. Many years ago I happened to mention the Poe incident to a friend (and never, I think, to anybody else, at least out of my own family); and having later in life done some things thought to make a biographical notice desirable, the gentleman wrote it, and inserted this anecdote from his memory. The reporter must have got it either from that notice or from the gentleman himself (circumstances rather favor the latter supposition), and mixed the junior and senior up. As to the anecdote itself, every experienced proofreader will know that it has no particular significance, for Poe was not then the famous man he afterward became, largely through this very poem, and proofreaders don’t bother themselves with saving bits of magazine copy on the chance of future celebrity.

“Begging your pardon for troubling you with so purely personal a matter, I remain, very respectfully yours, Francis A. Teall.”

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