Griswold, Rufus Wilmot

Griswold, Rufus Wilmot,

1815–57, American editor, b. Benson, Vt. He was influential as editor of Graham's Magazine (1842–43) and the International Monthly Magazine (1850–52) and as anthologist of The Poets and Poetry of America (1842) and several similar books. He had known Edgar Allan Poe since 1842 and on Poe's death was named his literary executor. The obituary he wrote emphasized the scandals attached to Poe's name, and in his edition of Poe's writings he added passages to Poe's letters favorable to himself and had them published as Poe's own.


See his selected letters and papers (ed. by his son, W. McC. Griswold, 1898).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

Griswold, Rufus Wilmot

(1815–57) anthologist, editor, literary critic; born in Benson, Vt. After an obscure period of journalism and editorial work beginning in 1830, he obtained a license as a Baptist minister, though he seems never to have taken a regular pulpit. He edited various periodicals and campaigned against capital punishment and imprisonment for debt. With William Leggett and others he established a library in the New York City Prison. He was a strong opponent of Americanism in literature and published an anthology of The Poets and Poetry of America (1842). He succeeded Edgar Allan Poe as editor of Graham's Magazine (1842–43) and edited additional literary collections, including The Prose Works of John Milton (1845, 1847), The Prose Writers of America (1847), and The Female Poets of America (1848). He wrote a rather harsh obituary of Poe (1849), even though Poe had named him as his literary executor. He published a flawed edition of Poe's works (1850–56) and included a rather scandalous memoir. He edited the International Monthly Magazine (1850–52) and P. T. Barnum's Illustrated News (1852–53). He wrote a lengthy and remarkably destructive review of the Duykinck's Cyclopedia of American Literature in the New York Herald (Feb. 1856).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.