Saturday, October 24, 2009

Poe buys The Broadway Journal

The New York-based Broadway Journal was founded by Charles Frederick Briggs, who partnered with John Bisco. Both were Massachusetts natives by birth — Briggs from Nantucket, and Bisco from Worcester. Briggs was a relatively well-known writer, particularly for his novel The Adventures of Harry Franco; Bisco was most recently a school teacher in New Jersey, but Briggs referredt o him as "a shrewd yankee" who had previously worked with the Knickerbocker. Looking for more help on the literary end, Briggs contacted James Russell Lowell in a letter dated December 7, 1844: "Do you know of any available talent, or genius rather, in your neighborhood?"

Lowell helped Briggs partner with another Massachusetts-born figure: Edgar Poe. Poe became one-third owner in the project (he also published updated versions of "Ligeia," "William Wilson," and "The Tell-Tale Heart" in the newspaper).

Briggs left the project he founded within the first year, at least partially because he was annoyed at his new partner's bickering about Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. On October 24, 1845, John Bisco officially left the periodical too, allowing Poe to buy out his share for $50 — using an I. O. U. endorsed by Horace Greeley (who would later publish Poe's obituary in his own newspaper).

In other words, as of October 24, 1845, Poe was the sole owner of his own journal. The issue published the next day included the masthead listing Poe as "EDITOR AND PROPRIETOR."

It had been a dream of his for the majority of his career, whether he called it The Stylus or The Penn. However, taking over the Broadway Journal was not as ideal as Poe might have imagined. He was inheriting a journal with substantial financial problems (which is why Briggs abandoned ship) and immediately the company was in debt $140. Additionally, Poe's caustic reviews were starting to lose their novelty, resulting in negative responses from critics and readers alike. His recent Boston Lyceum fiasco was also still causing a stir. The Broadway Journal, with Poe at its helm, was defunct with only a few months.

Briggs would join in the assault on Poe's character after Poe's death. He published "The Personality of Poe" in 1877.

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