Mary Elizabeth Phillips correspondence with Robert Kegerries, 1915-1926 | Boston Public Library Archival and Manuscript Finding Aid Database
This collection consists of fifty-nine letters written by Mary Elizabeth Phillips to Robert Kegerries, an actor who adapted and performed Poe’s The Tale Tell Heart on stage over one hundred times. Phillips wanted to publish a biography of Poe that would portray an accurate account of the author’s life, and the letters chronicle her research process. Whenever he was asked, Kegerries loaned Phillips items from his personal collection, conducted research, and served as a reader.
Phillips’ first step was to seek out the facts about Poe’s ancestry, and to learn about his childhood, military career, and other major events, particularly his marriage to Virginia Clemm. The correspondence contains many references to her search for primary and secondary sources which included letters, portraits, and photographs of the Poe ancestral home in Scotland. In 1917, she read an original unabridged manuscript of The Raven.
Another major component of Phillips’ research was travel. She frequently went to Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia. In those places she visited libraries and private organizations that held a wealth of resources about Poe. In 1916 when she was in Boston and in possession of Kegerries’ newspaper clippings collection, she entrusted the items to the Boston Public Library for safekeeping and would go there daily to look at the papers.
Phillips’ efforts culminated in 1926 when she published Edgar Allan Poe, the Man.