Museum News


Bring Your Little Poes to Poe’s Pumpkin Patch


It’s that time of year again. You and your kids are looking for fun Halloween activities, and you can’t do much better than Poe’s Pumpkin Patch, an afternoon of Poe-themed fun and games for children eleven and under. The event will take place in the Poe Museum’s garden on Sunday, October 28 from 2-5 P.M. Be sure to dress up for the costume contest and practice your technique for the mummy wrapping contest. Don’t forget to pick up a pumpkin (while supplies last). Make sure your kids grow up weird by taking them to Poe’s Pumpkin Patch!

Event is included in price of Poe Museum general admission. For more information, call the Poe Museum at 804-648-5523.




October Unhappy Hour Pays Tribute to Great Horror Tale


On October 25 from 6 to 9 P.M. the Poe Museum will celebrate Poe’s horror masterpiece “The Masque of the Red Death” with an Unhappy Hour featuring live music by Little Black Rain Clouds and Robert Andrew Scott, paranormal investigation demonstrations by Spirited History, psychic readings by Miss Emma, a performance, a costume contest, the ever popular cash bar, and a new exhibit of artwork inspired by the story. Be sure not to miss the only Halloween party in Richmond with real ghosts. Wear your weirdest costumes for the costume contest. Admission is by an optional $5 donation. Overflow parking is available at the Holocaust Museum parking lot at 21st and Canal Street.

For more information, call 888-21-EAPOE or write info@poemuseum.org.

(Artwork above by Abigail Larson)




See “The Masque of the Red Death” in Stunning Stained Glass


The Poe Museum is pleased to announce the upcoming exhibition of new artwork inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Masque of the Red Death.” The show will open on October 7 and run through December 31. In honor of the show, the Poe Museum will host a special “Masque of the Red Death” Unhappy Hour on October 25 from 6-9 P.M. The highlight of the exhibit will be a stained glass window (pictured above) created by award-winning Wisconsin glass artist David Fode. Earlier this year, Fode displayed the piece at the American Glass Guild’s juried members’ exhibit in Pittsburg. David Fode was trained in drawing and illustration at the American Academy of Art in Chicago and began his career illustrating various periodicals in the United States and Europe. In 1999 Fode began working exclusively in stained glass, primarily in restoration and conservation. Fascinated by the idea of using light itself as a medium, Fode made a careful study of traditional means and methods used to manipulate light in painted designs. Fode currently designs and paints new stained glass for churches, businesses and private homes using the styles and traditional techniques found in the 19th century works that originally inspired him. More examples of his work can be found here.

In addition to Fode’s work, the exhibit will feature a series of lithographs (pictured above) by Indre McCraw, who works as a freelance glass painter and is based in NY. She started her stained glass training as a stained glass conservation intern at St. Ann’s for Restoration and the Arts in Brooklyn in 1993 while getting her BFA in Illustration and Art Education from Parsons School of Design (1994). She was hired as the third staff apprentice of the St. Ann’s program in 1996. She does a good deal of replication work through various studios for churches, historic places, and the Cloisters/Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as new work of her own and for others.

Complementing the new artwork by Fode and McCraw will be select pieces from the Poe Museum’s collection by Michael DeMarco, Berni Wrightson, and others.

The Poe Museum’s exhibit will build upon the museum’s tradition of bringing to Richmond the best in contemporary visual art inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Since 1922 (when the Poe Museum worked with Mt. Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borghlum in the development of a portrait bust of Poe) the Poe Museum has brought the best in contemporary art to Richmond. While visiting the Poe Museum to see “The Masque of the Red Death,” guests can also see the Poe Museum’s outstanding permanent collections and its other temporary exhibit “Picturing Poe: Portraits from the Poe Museum’s Collection” featuring portraits of Poe done by a variety of artists from 1884 to 2009.




Coming Next Summer: The 2013 Edgar Allan Poe Young Writers’ Conference


If you are a high school student who loves writing, get ready for a unique week-long residential writing experience. On June 16-22, 2013, young writers from around the country will come to Richmond to meet professional novelists, journalists, poets, and editors who will share their expertise and advice. Over the course of the week, conferees will learn and practice the craft of writing. By visiting the sites Poe knew best and by learning more about Poe’s early years, attendees will become immersed in the inspiration and experiences that shaped Edgar Allan Poe when he was a teenager. The conference director is Edgar Award-winning author Dr. Harry Lee Poe, Charles Colson Chair of Faith and Culture at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, and author of several books including Evermore: Edgar Allan Poe and the Mystery of the Universe. You can see from photos from the 2012 conference here.

Here is what a past conferee wrote us about her experience at the conference:
“ I returned from the young writers’ conference on sunday and just wanted to write and say what an amazing time i had! it was so much fun and i learned a lot. hope to see ya’ll next year. –“

Here is what the mother of one of the conferees had to say:
“Dear Mr. Poe,
Now that A____ is back home and we have had some time to talk about the trip and the Conference itself, I cannot but thank you and your staff for having provided A_____ with a wonderful educational experience. He enjoyed every activity, lecture, and workshop. We truly appreciate your generosity and the time you (and the Museum’s staff) devoted to not only discuss various interesting topics with A____, but to advise him on practical and career paths.”

Mark your calendars. The application will be online soon. For more information, please write us at info@poemuseum.org.




VCU Students Show New Film at the Poe Museum


Students have long had a fascination with Edgar Poe. Every year the Poe Museum receives numerous calls and emails from students writing papers on their favorite author. Less frequently, the Museum hears from students working on visual art, dance, or film projects honoring Poe. Now a group of Virginia Commonwealth University students is combining dance, music, visual art, and film in a project that has already been two years in the making. At 8:30 P.M. during the September 27 Unhappy Hour, Poe Museum visitors will be the first to preview this new short film about Edgar Allan Poe by Christine Stoddard and David Fuchs, who won a VCUarts Undergraduate Research Grant in 2010 to produce the project. Entitled “The Persistence of Poe,” the twenty-two minute documentary will explore the influence Poe’s works have had on Richmond writers and artists of today.

According to the film’s official website, “The whole style of the film is done with a collage feel because Poe led such a patchwork existence. Through its use of live action, animation, writing, narration, music, dance, and theatre, the film demonstrates the range, power, and ability of interdisciplinary art. Cut-out animation is superimposed over photographs of present-day locations concerning Poe; animation sequences break up some of the live-action scenes. Interpretative readings of select Poe works that allude to or were written in Richmond break up the film’s biographical elements. Combined animation and live action recordings of dancing to his poetry accompany these readings. Coverage on how Poe still affects Richmond in the modern day would be essential, as well.”

Please join us on September 27 as we see this exciting new film and encourage these promising young filmmakers. The screening will be preceded by our regularly scheduled September Unhappy Hour featuring live music by Goldrush. Admission to the Unhappy Hour and film screening is by optional $5 donation. A cash bar will be available. Overflow parking is available one block south of the Poe Museum at the Virginia Holocaust Museum at 20th and Cary Streets.




Poe Museum Members Explore Shockoe Hill Cemetery


Last Sunday, the members of the Poe Museum were invited to a special Poe-themed tour of Richmond’s Shockoe Hill Cemetery led by Jeffry Burden, President of the Friends of Shockoe Hill Cemetery. In the above photo, some of the guests are visiting the grave of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall. In the below photo, Jeffry Burden shows members Union spy Elizabeth Van Lew’s monument. (Notice the guest sporting a new Poe Museum tote bag.)

In addition to the graves of Poe’s first love Jane Stanard and his foster father John Allan, Burden showed the group the lesser known graves of other Poe acquaintances. Below is a photo of the grave of John Carter, the doctor Poe visited his last night in Richmond. Poe left his walking stick at Carter’s house on East Broad Street, and it was from Carter’s heirs that the Poe Museum acquired the walking stick. According to a later account by Carter, published in November 1902 in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, “On this evening [Poe] sat for some time talking, while playing with a handsome Malacca sword-cane recently presented to me by a friend, and then, abruptly rising, said, ‘I think I will step over to Saddler’s (a popular restaurant in the neighborhood) for a few moments,’ and so left without any further word, having my cane still in his hand. From this manner of departure I inferred that he expected to return shortly, but did not see him again, and was surprised to learn next day that he had left for Baltimore by the early morning boat. I then called on Saddler, who informed me that Poe had left his house at exactly twelve that night, starting for the Baltimore boat in company with several companions whom he had met at Saddler’s, and giving as a reason therefore the lateness of the hour and the fact that the boat was to leave at four o’clock. According to Saddler he was in good spirits and sober, though it is certain that he had been drinking and that he seemed oblivious of his baggage, which had been left in his room at the Swan Tavern. These effects were after his death forwarded by one of Mrs. Mackenzie’s sons to Mrs. Clemm in New York, and through the same source I received my cane, which Poe in his absent-mindedness had taken away with him.”

The next images shows the recently damaged monument of Rev. John McCabe, a poet who contributed his work to the Southern Literary Messenger while the journal was under Poe’s editorship. In his “Chapter on Autography,” Poe wrote, “Dr. JOHN C. MCCABE, of Richmond, Virginia, has written much and generally well, in prose and poetry, for the periodicals of the day — for the ‘Southern Literary Messenger’ in especial, and other journals.” In a March 3, 1836 letter to McCabe, Poe (who has just rejected one of McCabe’s poems for publication in the Messenger) writes, “I feel exceedingly desirous that you should be even more favorably known to the public than you are at present, and that this object should be accomplished thro’ the medium of the Messenger.”

The next picture shows the unmarked grave of Eliza White, daughter of Poe’s boss and owner of the Southern Literary Messenger Thomas White. Before his marriage to Virginia Clemm, Poe is said to have been a favorite dancing partner of Miss White’s. When Poe married Virginia, Eliza White was one of the few guests invited to the small ceremony. Over a decade later, she visited Poe and his wife at their cottage in Fordham, New York.

If you did not have a chance to join us for last weekend’s tour but still would like to visit historic Shockoe Hill Cemetery, you should come to the dedication on October 7 at 1 P.M. of a plaque honoring Poe’s first and last fiancee Elmira Royster Shelton.




Poe’s Last Love Remembered


In one of the last letters he would ever write, Edgar Poe told his aunt, Maria Clemm, “I think [Elmira] loves me more devotedly than any one I ever knew & I cannot help loving her in return.” In the same note, he spoke of his desire to marry Elmira, the woman to whom he had been engaged twenty two years earlier and who had inspired a number of his poems written during those two decades.

“Elmira” was Sarah Elmira Royster Shelton, one of the people who had the greatest influence on Poe’s life and work. When their first engagement was broken by her father, the eighteen-year-old Poe wrote about his sense of loss in poems including “Tamerlane,” “Song,” and “To Elmira.” Even Poe’s brother, William Henry Leonard Poe, wrote a short story about the doomed romance. A few critics also believe both Poe’s poem “To One in Paradise” and his 1848 version of “To Helen” describe the garden Poe and Elmira used to hide from her disapproving parents during their courtship. Years later, after a twenty-seven-year-old Poe encountered a married Elmira Shelton at a Richmond party, he wrote “To Zante” about the experience. The poem’s refrain of “No more!” foreshadowed the famous refrain of “Nevermore,” which would be published eight years later.

At the age of forty, when Poe renewed his engagement to the widowed Shelton, he may have told her she was his “Lost Lenore,” but it is unlikely that he had actually written “The Raven” about her. He may even have told her “Annabel Lee” had been written about her for there are echoes of their first courtship in such lines as “She was a child, and I was a child…” But other women may also have claims to inspiring the poem (if it was, in fact, based on any person in particular).

The significance of “Annabel Lee” to their relationship may, however, be reflected in the account of his desire to have it published for the first time with their wedding announcement in the local papers. Since Poe died just ten days before they would have been married, the poem was instead first printed at the end of his obituary written by Rufus Griswold in the New York Daily Tribune (although Poe had actually sold it to his John Sartain’s Union Magazine). As Poe lay dying in a Baltimore hospital, he repeatedly told his physician he had a wife in Richmond to whom he needed to return. Though the marriage had not yet taken place, Poe’s “wife” might have been Elmira Shelton.

Upon hearing word of Poe’s death, Shelton wrote to Poe’s aunt Maria Clemm, that he had been “the dearest object on earth.” Shelton then wrote Poe’s attending physician John J. Moran, “Mr. Poe was more to me than any other living being” and expressing her desire to know everything about Poe’s final days.

In her remaining years, Shelton spoke little of Poe and refused to cooperate with Poe’s biographers when they requested interviews. One of Shelton’s granddaughters, who lived with her, later claimed to know nothing of Poe’s relationship with her grandmother until around 1876, probably when she read about it in one of Poe’s biographies. In an 1875 interview with Richmond sculptor and historian Edward V. Valentine, Shelton, likely embarrassed by her connection with such an infamous figure as Poe (whose first biography had portrayed him as a drunken madman in an attempt to impugn Poe’s character), went so far as to deny she had actually been engaged to Poe in 1849, but this is contradicted by one of Shelton’s own letters written to Maria Clemm on September 22, 1849 in which Shelton clearly implies she is engaged to Poe. The newspapers at the time also reported that “It was universally reported that he was engaged to be married. The lady was a widow, of wealth and beauty, who was an old flame of his, and whom he declared to be the ideal and original of his Lenore.” (John M. Daniel. Richmond Semi-Weekly Examiner. October 12, 1849). When Shelton finally granted John Moran an interview for his book A Defense of Edgar Allan Poe (1885), she verified that she had indeed been engaged to Poe. In the same book, Moran repeatedly refers to Shelton as “[Poe’s] ‘Annabel Lee,’” further spreading the rumor that Poe had written the poem about her. After Shelton’s death in 1888, her obituary in the Richmond Whig bore the headline “Poe’s First and Last Love.”

Since Shelton was so reluctant to speak about Poe, many of the facts of their relationship remain secret, and what has come to light is often a mixture of legend and truth. It is known that Shelton kept as souvenirs of the author a daguerreotype of Poe (known today as the “Traylor Daguerreotype”), a mother-of-pearl purse, a locket containing Poe’s hair, a drawing Poe made of her as a teenager, and an albumen print photograph of Poe. The latter was printed decades after Poe’s death.

When the Poe Museum opened in 1922, Shelton’s great granddaughter, Mrs. Elsie W. Pearson, was one of its founding members and later left Shelton’s daguerreotype, eyeglasses, and photograph of Poe to the museum. Other Shelton descendants, Thomas and William Cobb, also donated Shelton family items to the Poe Museum, continuing the tradition of Shelton family support of the museum. Visitors to the museum can today see some of these items on display as reminders of the role Shelton played in Poe’s life.

Given Shelton’s influence over Poe’s life and work, one might be surprised to know that she is buried in an unmarked grave next to her husband’s severely weathered and barely readable monument. This October, the Poe Museum, which was instrumental in marking the grave of Poe’s mother and in placing a plaque on the grave of Poe’s first love, Jane Stanard, will finally mark the grave of Sarah Elmira Royster Shelton in Richmond’s Shockoe Hill Cemetery. You are invited to attend the historic unveiling on Saturday, October 7, 2012 at 1 PM and to pay long overdue homage to a woman who, as the muse of a great poet, helped shape the course of world literature.




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




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.