Museum News


Poe Museum Observes Anniversary of Poe’s Death


Anyone can celebrate a birthday, but the Poe Museum also celebrates a death day. On October 3, 2013, the Poe Museum in Richmond will observe the anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s death (October 7, 1849), with a tribute from Elmira Shelton, the woman to whom Poe was engaged when he died. Debbie Phillips, who has also performed for the museum as Poe’s mother Eliza Poe, returns for a historical interpretation based on years of research into Poe’s last love. After the performance, “Elmira” will stay to mingle with guests. Tours of the museum will explore the themes of death and mourning in Poe’s time. The event will last from 6P.M. until 9 P.M. Refreshments will be available.




The Unhappy Hour Returns to the Poe Museum


After a break for the summer, the Poe Museum’s popular monthly event series, the Unhappy Hour, returns Thursday, September 26 from six to nine for an evening of live music, fine food and drink, and the closing of the museum’s special exhibit Poe in Paris. The theme for the night is “The Fall of the House of Usher,” so we will be screening a short film inspired by the story. The music will be provided by Margot MacDonald, and, in honor of the Poe in Paris exhibit, food will be provided courtesy of La Parisienne Bistro and Café. The event will take place in the Poe Museum’s legendary Enchanted Garden. Admission is by five dollar optional donation, and a cash bar will be available. For more information, contact the Poe Museum at 888-21-EAPOE or email us at info@poemuseum.org.

Fine French Food Courtesy of:




Poe Museum Receives Major Gift


On October 5 at 1 P.M., the Poe Museum will receive the largest gift in its history, a house. The house just happens to be the oldest in Richmond, the Old Stone House. Though we are not exactly certain when it was built, dendrochronology (testing of the tree rings in wood) dates the floorboards to 1754. For over ninety years, the Poe Museum has occupied the house, which remains the property of Preservation Virginia, formerly known as the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, while the other three buildings in the Poe Museum complex belong to the Poe Foundation.

The history of the Old Stone House is a colorful one. From the 1740s until 1911, the property was owned by the Ege family, who were among the first residents of the city. In 1781, one of the residents, Elizabeth Ege Welsh, supposedly saw Benedict Arnold invade and set fire to Richmond from the house. By the 1840s, the house appears in guide books for visitors to the city. Around 1881, the house was rented to R. L. Potter, “The Wheelbarrow Man,” who used it to exhibit an assortment of unusual objects he had collected while pushing a wheelbarrow from New York to California and back. One account says he even displayed a live bear in one of the rooms. In 1894, the house was known as Washington’s Headquarters Antiquarium and Relic Museum, which published a guide book to perpetuate some tall tales about how the house had been built by Powhatan, used as a courthouse by Patrick Henry, and used as George Washington’s headquarters during the American Revolution (though Washington never actually set foot in the city during that war). Some old postcards show the house with a large “Washington’s Headquarters” sign hanging next to the front door.

In 1913, the Ege family lost the property, and Granville Valentine purchased the building to save it from destruction. Valentine, in turn, donated it to the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, who tried to find someone to rent it. A renter who had intended to use it as an antique store left because the property was being vandalized. Then Archer Jones, owner of the Duplex Envelope Company, approached the APVA with the idea of using the house as a museum of Colonial history. Jones and his wife soon met the Poe collector James Whitty, who wanted to reconstruct the recently demolished office of the Southern Literary Messenger in the junk yard behind the house. In 1921, that idea evolved into using the Messenger bricks and granite to make a Poe Memorial garden in the yard and using the locks, lumber, and hinges from the Messenger building to restore the Old Stone House. The House was then furnished with furniture from Richmond buildings in which Poe lived or worked. In the early years, the APVA charged the Poe Foundation rent for the property, but it eventually allowed the museum to use the house rent-free.

Ninety-one years after the Poe Museum opened, the Old Stone House is still visited by guests from around the world, and the exterior of the house remains virtually unchanged from its appearance recorded in nineteenth century photos. Thanks to Preservation Virginia, this beautiful remnant of Richmond’s Colonial past will finally become a true part of the Poe Museum. The museum has no plans for changes to the structure, which will be protected from significant alterations by an easement with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

To learn more about the Old Stone House, please visit the Poe Museum or read the forthcoming book about the house by Rosemarie Mitchell.




Latest Positively Poe Conference Schedule


Here is a link to the very latest Positively Poe Conference schedule.

Positively Poe Conference Program6-21-2013




Final Schedule for Positively Poe Conference


Here is the final schedule for the first Positively Poe Conference to be held next week, June 24-26 at the University of Virginia. Click here or write conference organizer Alexandra Urakova for more information.

PPConferencePROGRAM BOOK




Today Marks Edgar Poe’s 177th Wedding Anniversary


The bride, Virginia Clemm, in a drawing by A.G. Learned

On May 16, 1836, Edgar Allan Poe and his young fiancée Virginia Clemm were joined by a few close friends for a small wedding ceremony at a home near Capitol Square. According to different sources, the event took place at either Mrs. Yarrington’s boarding house at Eleventh and Bank Streets or the home of Amasa Converse at Eighth and Franklin Streets. The guests included Virginia’s mother and Poe’s aunt Maria Poe Clemm, Poe’s boss at the Southern Literary Messenger Thomas White, White’s daughter Eliza, a pressman named Thomas W. Cleland and his wife, the printer of the Messenger William McFarlane, an apprentice in the Messenger office named John W. Fergusson, the owner of the boarding house in which Poe lived Mrs. James Yarrington, one of Virginia’s friends Jane Foster, and a few others.

William MacFarlance, one of Poe's wedding guests

In addition to the number of guests associated with the Southern Literary Messenger, another magazine writer, Rev. Amasa Converse, performed the ceremony. In addition to editing the Southern Religious Telegraph, Converse was a Presbyterian minister. He later recalled Poe’s bride as “polished, dignified and agreeable in her bearing… [possessing] a pleasing manner but…very young.” Of course, Virginia was half the age of her twenty-seven year-old groom, but Converse noted she had given “her consent freely.” Unfortunately, her father’s death a few years earlier had prevented him from giving her his permission to marry, so, earlier on his wedding day, Poe had signed a marriage bond verifying Virginia was twenty-one and able to marry without her father’s consent. Cleland co-signed the document.

Rev. Amasa Converse, who performed Poe's wedding ceremony

In a 1904 letter to T. Pendleton Cummings, Rev. Converse’s son F.B. Converse wrote that Poe “was married by my father…in my father’s parlor…at the Southeast corner of Main and Eighth Streets, Richmond…Edgar Allan Poe came to the house, and the wedding was performed in the parlor, my father standing, according to the impressions which I have received, near the mantel piece and Edgar Allan Poe and his bride coming in at the front. There were very few persons present at the wedding, my mother and the members of the family, and perhaps one or two more companions, which they brought with them.”

John Fergusson, another of Poe's wedding guests

Poe collector James H. Whitty later interviewed Jane Foster about the wedding, and he reported, “Mrs. Jane [Foster] Stocking was present at the wedding, which took place in the parlor of the Yarrington home, where Poe boarded, Mrs. Stocking, then but a slip of a girl, was full of thrills with thoughts of seeing so young a girl, like her own self, getting married; and also like Virginia, she was so little, that she found her best view of the ceremony was from the hallway door, where she obtained a reflection of the entire scene through a large old-fashioned mirror, which tilted forward a bit from over the mantle. All the boarders of the home, and all the poet’s friends, including Mr. Thomas W. White and his daughter Eliza, were present. Virginia was attired in a new traveling dress, and…hat. After the ceremony and congratulations the newly wedded entered a hack, waiting on the outside, and went to a train for Petersburg, Va., where they spent their honeymoon…Mrs. Stocking at the time of the wedding was both young and shy, and on the occasion she said, that she could only look, and look about in bewilderment — for in that short ceremony of a few minutes she was picturing her little companion of the day before suddenly transported into matured womanhood; like in the fairy tales, she was wondering why Virginia didn’t grow taller and look different, à la Cinderella; that’s what bothered little Jane Foster the most; but Virginia looked natural, and never changed an iota.”
After the ceremony, the guests ate wedding cake baked by Mrs. Clemm. Then some of the guests accompanied the newlyweds to the train station where they boarded a train to their honeymoon at the home of magazine editor Hiram Haines in Petersburg.

Possible site of Poe's wedding, Mrs. Yarrington's boarding house on Bank Street

A few days later, on May 20, the Richmond Whig reported, “Married, on Monday May 16th, by the Reverend Mr. Converse, Mr. Edgar A. Poe to Miss Virginia Clemm.” Other papers in Richmond and Norfolk carried similar announcements.

Hiram Haines House, where Poe stayed on his honeymoon

Contemporary accounts attest that Poe was a devoted husband to his adoring wife. Their friend, the poet Frances Osgood, wrote, “Of the charming love and confidence that existed between his wife and himself, always delightfully apparent to me, in spite of the many little poetical episodes, in which the impassioned romance of his temperament impelled him to indulge; of this I cannot speak too earnestly — too warmly. I believe she was the only woman whom he ever truly loved.”

Poe and his wife would be married for eleven years before Virginia succumbed to tuberculosis at the age of twenty-four. Poe followed her just two years later. Though both died in different cities, their remains were reunited over thirty years later, and they are now buried together in Westminster Burying Grounds in Baltimore.

Today marks the 177th anniversary of Poe’s wedding, and it seems appropriate to conclude this post with Poe’s poem “Eulalie,” a tribute to the joys of married life:

EULALIE — A SONG.

I DWELT alone
In a world of moan,
And my soul was a stagnant tide,
Till the fair and gentle Eulalie became my blushing bride —
Till the yellow-haired young Eulalie became my smiling bride.

Ah, less — less bright
The stars of the night
Than the eyes of the radiant girl!
And never a flake
That the vapor can make
With the moon-tints of purple and pearl,
Can vie with the modest Eulalie’s most unregarded curl —
Can compare with the bright-eyed Eulalie’s most humble and careless curl.

Now Doubt — now Pain
Come never again,
For her soul gives me sigh for sigh,
And all day long
Shines, bright and strong,
Astarté within the sky,
While ever to her dear Eulalie upturns her matron eye —
While ever to her young Eulalie upturns her violet eye.

If you are interested in learning more about Poe’s marriage, visit the Poe Museum to see a display of artifacts owned by Virginia Clemm Poe. You can also learn more about Poe’s honeymoon in Petersburg at the May 23 Unhappy Hour when Jeffrey Abugel, author of Edgar Allan Poe’s Petersburg, will be here for a book signing.




“Poe in Paris” Exhibit Explores Poe’s International Influence


The Poe Museum is proud to announce its upcoming exhibit “Poe in Paris,” which runs from June 23 until September 8, 2013 at the Poe Museum at 1914 East Main Street, Richmond, Virginia. Drawing on rare artwork and documents from the Poe Museum and four other collections, the exhibit will explore Poe’s influence on French avant garde artists and writers of the nineteenth century. On Saturday, June 22 from 5 to 9 P.M. the Poe Museum will host a special preview opening and wine pairing for which tickets can be purchased at the museum or at poemuseum.org for $25 in advance or $30 at the door.

About Poe in Paris:

The progressive cultural climate of nineteenth century Paris gave birth to artistic movements like Impressionism, Symbolism, Post-Impressionism, and Fauvism. The writers and artists active there pioneered the concepts which would soon give birth to modern art and literature. One of the most important and influential figures in this incubator of innovative ideas never even visited Paris, but his name was on the lips of almost every member of the city’s avant garde. His works were discussed and imitated by the leading authors and illustrated by the most innovative artists. Though Edgar Allan Poe never saw Paris, some of his most important works were inspired by the city and, in turn, inspired Paris’s leading artists and writers including the painters Edouard Manet and Paul Gauguin and the writers Charles Baudelaire and Jules Verne.

Since most Americans only know Poe for a few of his horror stories, which comprise only a small fraction of his oeuvre, it is easy to forget that Richmond’s greatest writer was also America’s first internationally influential author. After his early death in 1849 and the dismissal of his works by some American critics, it was the Europeans—especially the French—who cultivated an appreciation of Poe’s revolutionary contributions to world literature and aesthetics. Poe and his followers promoted concepts like “Art for Art’s Sake” and “Pure Poetry” which turned the art world upside-down and ushered in the age of Modernism. It should be no wonder that Edouard Manet produced three portraits of him and provided illustrations for a French edition of “The Raven” translated by avant garde French poet Stephan Mallarme. Symbolist painter Paul Gauguin and Fauvist Henri Matisse were among the many French artists to produce Poe-inspired works. Considered the Father of Science Fiction, Jules Verne was inspired by Poe’s science fiction stories and even wrote a sequel to one of Poe’s novels.

The Poe Museum’s intriguing exhibit will feature Poe-inspired artwork by Edouard Manet, Henri Matisse, and more in addition to rare early French translations of Poe’s works by Charles Baudelaire, Stephan Mallarme, and others. Assembled from the Poe Museum’s collection as well as from four other public and private collections, the exhibit will explore Poe’s presence in Parisian culture at the time Modern Art was born.

“Poe in Paris” will run from June 23 until September 8, 2013 with a special preview evening and wine pairing to be held on Saturday, June 22 from 5 to 9 P.M. The exhibit is included in the cost of Poe Museum general admission, but tickets for the preview evening and wine pairing can be purchased at the Poe Museum or on its website for $25 in advance or $30 at the door.




There is Still Time to Register for Positively Poe Conference


This June 24-26, the Poe Museum and the UVA Small Special Collections Library will host the first-ever Positively Poe Conference devoted to Poe’s life affirming and benefitial contributions to art, literature, culture, and science. This unique conference promises to change the way you think about Poe’s life and work. An international group of the leading Poe scholars, artists, and scientists will converge on the University of Virginia for a new kind of conference to be held in the shadow of some of the very sites that influenced Poe’s greatest works. Conferees will attend a dinner only a short distance from Poe’s dorm room and a picnic in the very Ragged Mountains that appear in Poe’s “A Tale of the Ragged Mountains.” A wide array of speakers will explore previously overlooked aspects of America’s most famous and most misunderstood author. The response so far has been great, and people from around the world have already registered. Don’t miss this opportunity to be a part of this groundbreaking event in Poe studies. You can register for the conference online today. For more information, contact the conference organizer Alexandra Urakova at positivelypoe@gmail.com. A tentative schedule appears below.

Monday, June 24, 2013

7:00 Dinner – Rotunda Room.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

All paper sessions in the Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections Library auditorium

9:00 Session One – The Boy Next Door
Chair – Stephen Rachman, Michigan State University

A. Richard Kopley
“Edgar Allan Poe, the Boy Next Door”
B. Chris Semtner
“A Young Girl’s Recollections of Edgar Allan Poe”
C. Jerome McGann,
“Verse and Reverse. Poe and the Poetry of Codependence”.

10:30 Break

11:00 Session Two – Literary Circles, Friends and Followers
Chair – Jerome McGann, University of Virginia

A. Philip Phillips
“Yankee Neal and Edgar Poe: The Fruits of a Literary Friendship”
B. John Gruesser
“Poe, Whitman, and Melville in New York and Beyond”
C. Emron Esplin and Margarida Vale de Gato
“‘Excellent system(s) of positive translation(s)’: Why Poe’s Translators Have Neither Been Invisible nor Ephemeral”

12:30 Lunch break

1:30 Session Three – Poe and Art
Chair – Stephen Railton, University of Virginia

A. Scott Peeples
“Poe in Love”
B. Sonya Isaak
“When Music Affects Us to Tears”: Poe’s Silent Music – Divine Aspiration and Lasting Inspiration
C. Anne Margaret Daniel
“Bob Dylan: ‘like being in an Edgar Allan Poe story’”

3:00 Break

3:30 Session Four: Collecting Poe

Susan Tane and Harry Lee Poe

4:30 Break

6:00 Picnic – The Ragged Mountain (Beth Sweeney’s readers’ theater)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

All paper sessions in the Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections Library auditorium

9:00 Session One – The Comic Side of Poe
Chair – Richard Kopley, Penn State University

A. Barbara Cantalupo
“‘a little China man having a large stomach’: Poe’s Homely Details in ‘The Devil in the Belfry’
B. Alexandra Urakova
“Shreds and patches”: Poe, Fashion, and The Godey’s Lady’s Book
C. Elina Absalyamova
“A Comic Poe: European Success Story”

10:30 Break

11:00 Session Two – Tales: Rethinking the Gothic
Chair – Bill Engel, University of the South

A. Bonnie Shannon McMullen
“The ‘sob from the . . .ebony bed’: The Reanimation of the Gothic Tale in ‘Ligeia’”
B. Susan Beth Sweeney
“Positive Images: Poe and the Daguerreotype”
C. William E. Engel
“Jaunty dialogs with the non-human: a Closer Look at Dogs in the Works of E.A. Poe”

12:30 Lunch break

1:30 Session Three – Poe and Ethics
Chair – Margarida Vale de Gato, University of Lisboa

A. Gero Guttzeit,
“‘Constructive Power’: Poe’s Mythology and Ethics of Authorship”
B. Katherine Rose Keenan,
“You Can’t Escape Yourself”: Poe’s Use of Moral Doppelgangers”
C. Shawn McAvoy and Heather Myrick Stocker
“Selective Symbolism: Poe’s Romantic Theology”

3:00 Break

3.30 Session Four – Poetry, Science, and Eureka
Panel Chair – Harry Lee Poe, Union University

A. Stephen Rachman
“From “Al Aaraaf” to the Universe of Stars: Poe, the Arabesque, and Cosmology”
B. René van Slooten
“Religion, Science and Philosophy in Eureka”
C. Murray Ellison
“Judging Edgar Allan Poe’s Eureka after the Author’s Death”

5:00 Close




Leading Comic Artist will Speak at Poe Museum


Renowned comic artist Michael Golden, whose illustrations for a comic book adaptation of “The Tell-Tale Heart” are featured in the Poe Museum’s current exhibit “Still Beating: ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ Turns 170,” will be visiting the Poe Museum on Thursday, March 14 from 6-10 P.M. for a book signing and a lecture on his career and the art of sequential storytelling. This will be a great opportunity to meet one of the world’s leading comic artists.

Michael Golden is one of the world’s most popular comic artists, having provided artwork for G.I. Joe, The Adventures of Superman, Batman, The Micronauts, and many other groundbreaking series, including The ‘Nam. He is the co-creator of Rogue from the X-Men as well as Bucky O’Hare and Spartan X. He has served as an editor at DC Comics as well as Senior Art Director at Marvel Comics. In addition to continuing to create sequential stories, he also conducts classes in storytelling at venues around the world. The artwork in the Poe Museum’s exhibit, which is among his earliest published work, was printed in Marvel Classics #28 in 1977.

Michael Golden with Art




Register Today for the First Positively Poe Conference


Think Poe was just a tortured soul who only wrote scary stories? Think again. Poe invented the detective story, helped develop the science fiction genre, and made many other positive contributions to science and culture. On June 24-26, 2013 in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Poe Museum and the UVA Small Special Collections Library will co-sponsor the first Positively Poe Conference devoted to an exploration of how Poe made the world a better place. Be a part of this first-ever Positively Poe Conference by registering today. Here is more information about this exciting event:

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.

If you are interested in attending, just complete this registration form PositivelyPoeConferenceRegistrationForm and mail it to the address on the form or register online here.

For more information, contact Alexandra Urakova at positivelypoe@gmail.com.