Museum News


Conference to Celebrate Brighter Side of Poe


Below is a call for papers for a new kind of Poe conference coming next summer to Charlottesville, Virginia.

Positively Poe
Charlottesville, Virginia • June 24-26, 2013

Sponsored by The Poe Museum of Richmond, Virginia
at the Small Special Collections Library of the University of Virginia

CALL FOR PAPERS

Poe’s reputation as a tortured, tragic figure, melancholic poet and the “master of the macabre” has fueled his popularity for over a century and a half, while debunking stereotypes and myths associated with that reputation has always been an essential part of Poe criticism. Going beyond the debunking of the popular caricature, we would like to discover the “positive” side of Poe’s life and work. Just as his life had its ups and downs, his writing, too, reflects a wide range of experience, not exclusively the dark and dismal. We therefore invite papers on a broad diversity of subjects with a focus on the life-affirming and vital elements in Poe’s work. Papers may cover (but are not limited by) such themes as:

Poe and ethics (his ideas of love, friendship, manners)
Poe and art (aesthetic ideas in literature and criticism)
Science, philosophy, Eureka
Social and family life
Literary circles, friends and followers
Success stories of Poe’s poems and tales at home and abroad.

Deadline for submission of proposals is October 31, 2012.
Please submit proposals to Alexandra Urakova at positivelypoe@gmail.com.

Organized by Harry Poe hpoe@uu.edu 731-661-5404 and
Alexandra Urakova aurakova2008@yandex.ru




A Visit to Poe’s Cottage


A guest at the modest cottage in which Poe lived during his final three years provided this description of meeting the poet in his home: “I well remember the pretty little house, a tiny white cottage, set up above the road, surrounded by tall shrubs, trees, and emerald grass. It was a modest abode, but tasteful, and so scrupulously clean and well ordered that at once on entering it one felt that it was no ordinary home…The door leading into the small “entry” to the house was generally open. Beside the narrow staircase leading to the upper rooms stood a large tube-rose plant, which sent its fragrance all over the house. A door to the right on entering opened into the sitting room, and it was here that Poe received his guests, three or four literary people, on the day I first saw him.”
(Elma Mary Gove Letchworth, “A Young Girl’s Recollections of Edgar Allan Poe” undated manuscript)

Poe lived in the cottage with his wife Virginia Clemm Poe, his mother-in-law Maria Clemm, his cat, and some pet birds. After Poe’s death on October 7, 1849, Maria Clemm moved from the cottage to live with friends who could care for her in her final years. (She would actually live another twenty-two years.)

I recently visited The Bronx and the small cottage Poe rented there (now maintained by the Bronx County Historical Scoiety). Although the house is now in an urban environment, it is still possible to imagine how it must have appeared in Poe’s day when it was surrounded by rolling hills and cherry trees. Once inside the house, a guest can see furniture of the kind that Poe and his small family would have used. In fact, they still have Virginia Poe’s bed and Edgar Poe’s rocking chair. After reading the accounts of Poe’s final days in that cottage, walking those halls and seeing the artifacts about which I’d read really brought history to life. The pictures below show some of what the cottage has to offer.

Above is a photo of Poe’s rocking chair.

Here is the bed in which Poe’s wife died. There are descriptions of her lying here, covered with her husband’s West Point great coat with her cat sleeping on her check to keep her warm.

The mirror in Virginia Poe’s bedroom is a replica of her mirror, which is now on display at the Poe Museum in Richmond. The elbow in the reflection belongs to my guide, museum educator Angel Hernandez.

A source recounts that “beside the narrow staircase leading to the upper rooms stood a large tube-rose plant, which sent its fragrance all over the house.” (Letchworth)

A description of this room by one of Poe’s guests: “The sitting-room floor was laid with check matting; four chairs, a light stand, and a hanging bookshelf completed its furniture. There were pretty presentation copies of books on the little shelves, and the Brownings had posts of honour on the stand. With quiet exultation Poe drew from his side pocket a letter that he had recently received from Elizabeth Barrett Browning. He read it to us. It was very flattering. She told Poe that his ‘poem of the Raven had awakened a fit of horror in England.’ This was what he loved to do. To make the flesh creep, to make one shudder and freeze with horror, was more to his relish (I cannot say more to his mind or heart) than to touch the tenderest chords of sympathy or sadness…”
(Mrs. Mary Gove Nichols, “Reminiscences of Edgar Poe,” Sixpenny Magazine, February 1, 1863)

Poe’s bedroom is now the orientation room in which visitors can watch a video about Poe’s time in the cottage. This description provides a young girl’s perspective on seeing the poet’s bedroom: “On one of our visits to Fordham I was allowed to accept Mrs Clemm’s invitation to spend the night. I felt very proud as my hostess took me over the little house and showed me the exquisitely neat bed-rooms. There was ‘Eddy’s room,’ and I wondered at the snowy pillows piled high for the poet’s head. ‘Eddy cannot sleep if his head lies low,’ said Mrs Clemm, and I thought how uncomfortable high his head must be, like sitting up in bed.
(Elma Mary Gove Letchworth, “A Young Girl’s Recollections of Edgar Allan Poe” undated manuscript)

This is the kitchen in which Poe’s mother-in-law Maria Clemm prepared the family’s meals. Mary Gove Nichols recounted of this room, “The floor of the kitchen was white as wheaten flour. A table, a chair, and a little stove that it contained, seemed to furnish it perfectly.” Click here to see the soup ladle Mrs. Clemm used at the cottage.

This bronze bust of Poe by Edmund T. Quinn was unveiled on January 19, 1909, the centennial of Poe’s birth. Though it was once displayed outdoors, the bust is now exhibited inside the cottage. In 1930, the Bronx Society of Arts and Sciences gave a plaster copy of this bust to the Poe Museum in Richmond. (You can even purchase a copy from our gift shop.)

Although Poe experienced the tragic death of his wife while living in this cottage, he also composed some of his greatest works, including “The Bells,” “Annabel Lee,” and “Eureka.” Over 163 years after Poe left the cottage, it still evokes the feeling expressed by one of Poe’s guest Mrs. Nichols: “The cottage had an air of taste and gentility that must have been lent to it by the presence of its inmates. So neat, so poor, so unfurnished, and yet so charming a dwelling I never saw.”

Learn more about the Poe cottage by visiting this website.

To see some of the pieces the family owned while living there, you can also visit the Poe Museum in Richmond, where you can see Virginia Poe’s mirror, Virginia’s trinket box, the family’s soup ladle, Maria Clemm’s clothing, and Edgar Poe’s clothing, boot hooks, trunk, and walking stick.




Join the Poe Museum for a Tour of Shockoe Hill Cemetery


As a way of thanking our members for all their support, we will be hosting a special members-only Poe-themed guided tour of Richmond’s historic Shockoe Hill Cemetery on Sunday, September 9 at 2 P.M. Our guide, Jeffry Burden of the Friends of Shockoe Hill Cemetery, will show participants the graves of those Poe knew best, including his first love, his first and last fiancée, his foster parents, and his childhood friends. Shockoe Hill Cemetery is the final resting place of several prominent historical figures in this very historical city, so you will also learn more about US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, Revolutionary War Hero Peter Francisco, and more. The tour meets at the caretaker’s cabin at 1:45 P.M.

If you would like to join the tour, reserve your spot today by writing info@poemuseum.org or by calling 888-21-EAPOE. If you are not already a member, sign up today and get a free tote bag. You can’t beat $25* for a tour and tote bag. (*$15 for students and teachers, $35 for a couple, $50 for a family)




Join the Poe Museum for a Members-Only Ghost Hunt


Legends abound of otherworldly manifestations experienced at Richmond’s Edgar Allan Poe Museum. Books including The Ghosts of Virginia, Ghost Hunting Virginia, and The Shadows of Shockoe have recorded a few of these sightings, and a number of paranormal investigators have explored the Museum’s 258-year-old house, Enchanted Garden, and the rest of the complex in search of evidence of unexplained activity. Now the Poe Museum may finally put the legends to rest by opening the museum to public ghost hunts on August 11 and 18, 2012 from 9 P.M. to Midnight. The participants will be trained in investigative techniques by paranormal investigators from Spirited History, who will guide them through the investigation using the latest audio and video equipment. Because of limited space, all participants must reserve a spot and must be members of the Poe Museum in order to take part. Not a member? Learn about membership and sign up here. New and renewing members even get a tote bag with their membership. For more information on the ghost hunt, call 888-21-EAPOE or write info@poemuseum.org.




August Unhappy Hour Celebrates “Hop-Frog”


On August 23 from 6-9 P.M., the Poe Museum will host an Unhappy Hour featuring Poe’s classic revenge tale “Hop-Frog.” Join us for live music by accoustic duo Haze and Dacey, a cash bar, and a special installation of the story by Haunts of Richmond. Admission is free, but a $5 suggested donation is welcomed.