Originally titled "Heaven," "Fairy-Land" was written while Poe was at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Poe first offered the poem to Nathaniel Parker Willis, who wrote in an edition of "The Editor's Table" of the American Monthly of how he threw the submission into the fire and joyfully watched it burn. Nonetheless, it was soon published in the September 1829 issue of The Yankee and Boston Literary Gazette. The journal's owner and editor John Neal introduced the poem and others by Poe as "nonsense". He did, however, admit that the work showed great promise in the author. His introduction read, "If E. A. P. of Baltimore — whose lines about 'Heaven,' though he professes to regard them as altogether superior to any thing in the whole range of American poetry, save two or three trifles referred to, are, though nonsense, rather exquisite nonsense — would but do himself justice, might make a beautiful and perhaps magnificent poem. There is a good deal to justify such a hope." It was first collected in Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems in 1829. In that collection, Poe dedicated "Tamerlane" to Neal.
Robert Pinsky, who held the title of Poet Laureate of the United States from 1997–2000, said "Fairy-Land" was one of his favorite poems.