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Du Solle, John Stephenson (1810-1876)


Born in New York, John S. Du Solle moved to Philadelphia with his family in 1814 ("Colonel John Stephenson du Solle"). He is often remembered as the editor of the newspaper Spirit of the Times and as a friend of Edgar Allan Poe. He married his wife, Sarah Ann Ford, in December 1833 ("Colonel John Stephenson du Solle"). In November 1839, he pruchased the Saturday Evening Post with George Graham, who later became known for his publication, Graham's Magazine, which Poe both wrote for and help to edit (Thomas and Jackson 286). During his career, he wrote for the Philadelphia Sunday Times and also worked as the New York correspondent for the Philadelphia Sunday Dispatch ("Obituary," American Bookseller, 56). Thomas Gunn, an occasional visitor to Pfaff's, recorded several occasions seeing Du Solle during his visits to the office of the Sunday Times (Gunn vol. 8, 209; vol. 10, 24, 32).

Several scholars have recognized the connection that Du Solle had to Pfaff's. Junius Browne wrote that Du Solle was a member of the New York Bohemian community and more specifically, part of the “fraternity” that met at Pfaff’s restaurant. According to Browne, this group “had late suppers, and were brilliant with talk over beer and pipes for several years” (J. Browne 156-57). In addition, Renee Sentilles, a biographer of Adah Menken, described Du Solle as one of the regulars at Pfaff's (142). Scholar Mark Lause also included Du Solle among a list of visitors to the establishment as an "associate of George Lippard," another friend of Poe (Lause 52-3).

Du Solle and Edgar Allan Poe, who had tangential connections to Pfaff's, shared a close relationship. A contemporary of the two men, the humorist Charles Godfrey Leland noted that "Poe was often in Du Solle's office" (vol. 1, 140). Poe personally described his friend as "is well known through his connection with the “Spirit of the Times.” His prose is forcible, and often excellent in other respects. As a poet, he is entitled to higher consideration. Some of his Pindaric pieces are unusually good, and it may be doubted if we have a better iersifer in America" (Poe 276).

At one point in his life, Du Solle also worked as the private secretary of P. T. Barnum (Oberholtzer 253). Later in his career, he worked as the literary editor for the Sunday Mercury before his death in 1876 ("Obituary" 56).