Edgar Allan Poe Takes a Job as Editor of the Southern Literary Messenger

December 1835 Southern Literary Messenger Poe takes a job as editor of the Southern Literary Messenger magazine. He publishes critical reviews of other writers' work as well as his own stories and poems.

The story brought him to the attention of John P. Kennedy, a Baltimorian of considerable means. He helped Poe place some of his stories, and introduced him to Thomas W. White, editor of the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond. Poe became assistant editor of the periodical in August 1835, but was discharged within a few weeks for being caught drunk by his boss.

The Southern Literary Messenger was a periodical published in Richmond, Virginia, from 1834 until June 1864. Each issue carried a subtitle of "Devoted to Every Department of Literature and the Fine Arts" or some variation and included poetry, fiction, non-fiction, reviews, and historical notes. It was founded by Thomas Willis White who served as publisher and occasional editor until his death in 1843. White hired Edgar Allan Poe in 1835 as a staff writer and critic. Others involved with the periodical included Matthew Fontaine Maury and Maury's kinsman Benjamin Blake Minor. It ended in June 1864 in part due to Richmond's involvement in the American Civil War.

Edgar Allan Poe was hired as a staff writer and critic in August 1835, possibly based on a recommendation to White from John Pendleton Kennedy. Just a month later, White fired Poe, allegedly for his drinking habits, but rehired him in October. By December, Poe was made editor of the journal. While working for the Messenger, Poe published 37 reviews of American and foreign books and periodicals, cementing his place as a premier critic in the United States.
Poe was proud of his accomplishments with the journal and may have aided in a large jump in subscribers. In a letter years later in 1844, Poe wrote that he began working when the Messenger had about 700 subscribers, and left when it had 5,500 paying subscribers.
Besides criticism, Poe published many first printings of his now famous works in the Messenger, including the controversial Berenice, Morella, and - in installments - parts of his only novel Arthur Gordon Pym. Poe left the magazine with the January 1837 issue but still contributed works even after White's death.