April is National Poetry Month and the perfect time for a visit to the Poe Museum. Not only is the Poe Museum currently exhibiting a manuscript for Poe’s early poem “To Helen” as well as rare first editions of Poe’s volumes Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems, Poems, and The Raven and Other Poems, but the Museum is also home to a garden inspired by Poe’s poetry.
The Poe Museum’s legendary Enchanted Garden opened in April 1922 as Virginia’s first memorial to Edgar Allan Poe. The garden remains the heart of the Poe Museum complex and continues to thrive as a living embodiment of Poe’s poetic ideals. The name of the garden was borrowed from a line from Poe’s 1848 version of “To Helen.” The layout was derived from his poem “To One in Paradise,” and most of the flowers, trees, and shrubs were mentioned in hiss poems and short stories. Among the many plants visitors will encounter in the Enchanted Garden are begonias, clematis, geraniums, hyacinths, hydrangeas, pansies, roses, violets, and tulips. The grassy lawns are lined with ivy (said to have been taken from Poe’s mother’s grave at St. John’s Church), and the exterior staircase is covered in jasmine. Shade is provided by lovely old boxwoods which have grown to the size of trees. Other trees and shrubs include dogwoods, camellias, a magnolia, and a huge photinia, each of which displays beautiful flowers at different times of the year.
In addition to planting a variety of colorful plants, the founders of the Poe Museum incorporated building materials from a number of demolished buildings associated with the poet. The pergola was constructed using bricks and granite salvaged from the office of the Southern Literary Messenger, the magazine at which Poe began his career in journalism. The garden also contains elements from Poe’s foster father’s office, a boarding house in which Poe lived in Richmond, and from one of Poe’s New York homes.
If a garden seems an unusual memorial to a writer best known for his tales of murder and madness, you might be surprised to learn Poe loved nature and wrote a number of pieces about nature and landscape gardens. Among these are “Morning on the Wissahiccon,” “The Landor’s Cottage,” and “The Domain of Arnheim.” In the following passage from “The Domain of Arnheim,” Poe explains how a garden is like a poem:
“Ellison became neither musician nor poet; although no man lived more profoundly enamored of music and poetry. Under other circumstances than those which invested him, it is not impossible that he would have become a painter. Sculpture, although in its nature rigorously poetical was too limited in its extent and consequences, to have occupied, at any time, much of his attention. And I have now mentioned all the provinces in which the common understanding of the poetic sentiment has declared it capable of expatiating. But Ellison maintained that the richest, the truest, and most natural, if not altogether the most extensive province, had been unaccountably neglected. No definition had spoken of the landscape-gardener as of the poet; yet it seemed to my friend that the creation of the landscape-garden offered to the proper Muse the most magnificent of opportunities. Here, indeed, was the fairest field for the display of imagination in the endless combining of forms of novel beauty; the elements to enter into combination being, by a vast superiority, the most glorious which the earth could afford. In the multiform and multicolor of the flowers and the trees, he recognized the most direct and energetic efforts of Nature at physical loveliness. And in the direction or concentration of this effort — or, more properly, in its adaptation to the eyes which were to behold it on earth — he perceived that he should be employing the best means — laboring to the greatest advantage — in the fulfillment, not only of his own destiny as poet, but of the august purposes for which the Deity had implanted the poetic sentiment in man.”
A visit to the Enchanted Garden is like walking through Poe’s poetry, and National Poetry Month is a great time to see the spring flowers in bloom.
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
The Poe Museum in Richmond’s annual Poe Birthday Bash has been getting bigger and better every year, attracting visitors from around the globe; but this year’s celebration promises to be bigger than ever because it will be celebrating the birthdays of both Edgar Allan Poe and his horror classic “The Tell-Tale Heart.”
On January 19, 2013 from noon to midnight, the Poe Museum will celebrate its biggest Poe Birthday Bash ever to honor both Poe’s 204th birthday and the 170th anniversary of the first printing of his greatest horror story, “The Tell-Tale Heart,” with a day of festivities featuring no fewer than six performances, five tours, four historical interpreters, two films, a Poe trivia showdown, and the opening of the first public exhibition of the Museum’s most recently acquired artifact, the coveted first printing of “The Tell-Tale Heart.” In addition to this prized artifact, the exhibit will also feature sixteen original illustrations for comic book adaptations of the story by acclaimed artists Richard Corben and Michael Golden.
What’s Happening at Poe’s Birthday Bash:
Among the activities going on at the Poe Birthday Bash will be a reading of “The Tell-Tale Heart” at twelve-thirty; a walking tour of neighborhood Poe sites at one; a living history performance by Poe’s fiancées Sarah Helen Whitman, Elmira Shelton, and Virginia Clemm Poe at three; birthday cake with Poe’s cousin Dr. Harry Lee Poe at four-thirty; a multilingual reading of “The Raven” at five, a performance of Poe’s works by English actor Tony Parkin at five-thirty; and a candlelight walking tour of neighborhood Poe sites by an actress portraying Poe’s fiancée Sarah Helen Whitman at eight. Guided tours of the museum will be available throughout the day, and live music will be performed after nine. The evening with conclude with an actress portraying Sarah Helen Whitman, who was a devoted Spiritualist, attempting to contact Poe’s spirit at eleven fifteen and a champagne toast to Poe at midnight.
12:00 pm: Guided tour. Gift shop sale: select items, up to 50% off! In store only, not valid for online purchases. Ongoing until 4:00 P.M.
12:30 pm: Performance of “the Tell-Tale Heart”
1:00 pm: Lecture on The 170th Anniversary of “the Tell-Tale Heart” by Chris Semtner, Curator of the Poe Museum
2:00 pm: Walking tour of Poe’s Richmond led by Chris Semtner. Guided tour
2:00 pm: Instrumental music inspired by Poe’s poem “The Valley of Unrest” composed and performed by Victor X. Haskins on the trumpet
3:00 pm: Showdown of Poe’s Brides
4:00 pm: Art sale at the bar. Ongoing until 11:00 pm, featuring works by the Clockwork Collective and Abigail Larson. Guided tour
4:30 pm: Cutting of Poe’s Birthday Cake
5:00 pm: Reading of “the Raven” and other poems
5:30 pm: Live from London via telecast, a performance of “the Tell-Tale Heart” and other Poe stories by actor Tony Parkin
6:00 pm: Guided Tour
6:30 pm: Film screening of a 2010 animated short of “the Tell-Tale Heart” directed by Michael Swertfager. Guided tour
7:00 pm: Film screening of a 1928 experimental silent version of “the Fall of the House of Usher” directed by James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber
7:30 pm: Poe Trivia (with Poe Museum merchandise prizes)
8:00 pm: Living History Walking tour of Poe’s Richmond led by Poe’s fiance, the poetess Sarah Helen Whitman.
9:00 pm: Live music by The Blue and the Grey
10:00 pm: Reading of “The Black Cat”
10:15 pm: Live music continues
11:15 pm: Living History Seance performed by Sarah Helen Whitman
12:00 am: Champagne toast
Click here for photos from last year’s Poe Birthday Bash.
From January 19 until March 31, 2013, the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia will feature a special exhibit celebrating the 170th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s horror masterpiece “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Opening on Poe’s birthday, January 19, the exhibit brings together the Poe Museum’s recently acquired first printing of the story and loans of sixteen original drawings for comic book adaptations of the story by acclaimed illustrators Richard Corben and Michael Golden.
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 several other series. The artwork in the exhibit, which is among his earliest published work, was printed in Marvel Classics #28 in 1977.
Richard Corben began his career in animation before turning to underground comics. In 1976 he adapted a Robert E. Howard story into what is considered the first graphic novel, Bloodstar. His illustrious career has included work in album covers and movie posters, collaboration on a graphic novel with rock musician and filmmaker Rob Zombie, and an award-winning short film Neverwhere. The artwork on display was printed in Edgar Allan Poe’s Haunt of Horror #2 in 2006. One of the pieces will be an unpublished alternative cover design.
Admission to the exhibit is included in the price of Poe Museum general admission. The January 19 opening will coincide with the Poe Museum’s annual Poe Birthday Bash running from noon to midnight and featuring readings, live music, and a lecture about the legacy of “The Tell-Tale Heart.”
The exhibit was made possible by loans of artwork from the collections of Richard Corben and James Vacca.
Even after ninety years, the Poe Museum’s collection continues to grow. Here are a few of the recent acquisitions made possible by the Poe Museum’s friends.
First Printing of “The Tell-Tale Heart”
Almost everyone has read Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous short story of madness and murder, but this week the Poe Museum in Richmond finally acquired the coveted first printing of “The Tell-Tale Heart.” The story first appeared in the inaugural issue (January 1843) of the Boston magazine The Pioneer, edited by poet James Russell Lowell (1819-1891). Since only three issues were published before Lowell discontinued the magazine, copies are now relatively rare. Considered the most ambitious literary journal of Antebellum America, The Pioneer’s three issues contained contributions by Poe, Lowell, Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Greenleaf Whittier, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Poe Museum President Dr. Harry Lee Poe commented on the Poe Museum’s acquisition of the important first printing, “This is a prize for any collection especially because it is the story that is included in all the anthologies.” The piece will will go on display at the Poe Museum during the Museum’s day-long celebration of Poe’s birthday on January 19, 2013 from noon until midnight.
Though the story is a favorite with today’s readers, “The Tell-Tale Heart” was rejected the first time Poe tried to publish it– the publishers of the Boston Miscellany writing in their rejection letter, “If Mr. Poe would condescend to furnish more quiet articles, he would be a most desirable correspondent.” Lowell, however, liked the story and acquired it for the first issue of his own magazine, paying Poe ten dollars for the work. A number of magazines soon reprinted the story, but, owing to the lax copyright laws of the time, Poe did not receive any royalties for these unauthorized reprints. Two years later, the editor of Poe’s next collection of short stories did not select it for inclusion in what would be the last collection of Poe’s tales published during his lifetime.
The twentieth century’s leading Poe scholar Thomas Ollive Mabbott called Poe’s short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” “a supreme artistic achievement,” and the tale has long been a favorite among readers. A staple at readings of Poe’s works, the story has been adapted several times to film, including the 2009 movie “Tell-Tale” starring Josh Lucas and the upcoming “The Tell-Tale Heart” starring Rose McGowan. It even inspired an episode of the television program “The Simpsons” in which Lisa built a diorama based on the story.
Plaster from Poe’s Home in Baltimore
On October 25, the outgoing Curator of the Poe House and Museum of Baltimore, Jeff Jerome, presented the Poe Museum with a piece of horse hair from the Poe House. The plaster was removed from the interior east wall of the front room during a wall repair, and Jerome saved a few pieces of the plaster the repairmen discarded at that time. This piece, which measures about seven inches in width, may be a remnant of the house’s original (ca. 1830) plaster and would, therefore, date to the time of Poe’s residence in the building from early 1833 until August 1835. During Poe’s residence there, he wrote some of his major early tales including his first horror story “Berenice.” He lived in the house with his grandmother Elizabeth Poe, his cousin Henry Clemm, his aunt (and future mother-in-law) Maria Poe Clemm, and his cousin (and future wife) Virginia Clemm.
This piece will be a welcome addition to the Poe Museum’s collection of building materials from various buildings (most of which have been demolished) in which Poe lived or worked. Among the Poe-related building materials already in the Poe Museum’s collection are bricks from the office in which Poe worked for the Southern Literary Messenger, bricks from the headquarters of Poe’s foster father’s firm Ellis and Allan, granite from the home in which Poe was married, bricks from Poe’s home in New York City, a mantle from Poe’s bedroom in Richmond, locks and hinges from other Richmond buildings associated with Poe, lumber from the Southern Literary Messenger office, an urn from the garden in which Poe courted his first fiancée, and the staircase from Poe’s boyhood home. The Poe Museum’s collection of furnishings from Poe-related buildings includes the author’s bed, the chair on which he sat while editing the Southern Literary Messenger, and paintings from his home.
An Article about Poe
Another fine addition to the Poe Museum’s collection was the recent gift of Michael Blankenship of Roanoke, Virginia. The gift, the April 1891 issue of Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly contains the article “Some Memorials of Edgar Allan Poe” by Clara Dargan Maclean, who reports on her visits to the surviving residences of Poe and her interviews with people who knew him. The article contains some fine engravings as well as some interesting details about Poe’s death. Maclean was a proponent of the theory that Poe’s death resulted from cooping, the practice of abducting and drugging of men to force them to vote multiple times. The actual cause of Poe’s disappearance and death remains a mystery.
Appropriately enough, Blankenship donated the piece to the Poe Museum on Halloween. This magazine will be added to the Poe Museum’s reference library, which boasts already thousands of books and periodicals about Edgar Allan Poe’s life and works.
Below are some of the beautiful engravings from the article.
Be sure to visit the Poe Museum today before you miss the chance to see the Poe Museum’s strange new temporary exhibit “Hop-Frog,” which brings Poe’s classic revenge horror/comedy to life with sights and sounds provided by haunted house attraction operators Haunts of Richmond. The exhibit is included in the price of Poe Museum general admission, and this Thursday’s Unhappy Hour will be a perfect time to see it.
The exhibit’s last day will be this Saturday, September 29, and deinstallation will begin on Sunday in preparation of the Poe Museum’s next show “The Masque of the Red Death in Stained Glass.” We do not want to give away too much of what you can expect from this weird exhibit, but here is a photograph of part of the display.
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.
If you didn’t get a chance to see the Poe Museum’s new exhibit of James Carling’s 43 stunning “Raven” illustrations, you still have time. Due to popular demand, we have extended the show until July 29. We even printed a limited edition catalog, which is available at our online store.
During your visit, you can also see the new exhibit of Poe’s manuscripts and letters culled from seven different public and private collections.
One of the rarely seen Poe letters to be exhibited starting this April in the Poe Museum’s new exhibit From Poe’s Quill is this one Poe wrote to Edward Valentine. The letter still belongs to a descendant of Edward Valentine and is rarely available to public inspection. Visitors to the exhibit will be among the few who have had a chance to see it.
Edward Valentine was the cousin of Edgar Allan Poe’s foster mother Frances Keeling Valentine Allan. When Poe was first taken in by the Allans, Valentine became fond of the two-year-old and took him on rides through the country. Valentine was responsible for teaching Poe to box (a sport at which Poe would later excel) and for instructing him in the fine art of pulling the chair out from under an unsuspecting person as they are about to sit down at a table (a prank for which Poe got into trouble when he pulled it on a lady at one of Mr. Allan’s parties).
By the time Poe was twenty-five, he lost both his foster parents, and he lost touch with his foster mother’s sister “Aunt Nancy” Valentine, who was still living with John Allan’s widow in Richmond. If Poe did stay in contact with Edward Valentine, no letters between them survive to indicate that. In fact, the only letter from Poe to Valentine known to survive is the present one, written in 1848, when Poe was thirty-nine. At the time, Poe was looking for financial assistance with starting a new literary magazine to be called The Stylus, so Poe turned to Edward Valentine. In the letter dated November 20, 1848, Poe recalls his early years with Valentine, writing, “I call to mind, however, that, during my childhood, you were very kind to me, and, I believe, very fond of me.”
Seven days before Poe wrote this letter, he had become engaged to the Providence, Rhode Island poet Sarah Helen Whitman. After rejecting his first proposal, at the beginning of November, Whitman agreed to a conditional engagement, which she would break the following month.
Although Valentine might have wanted to help Poe, a note he wrote on the letter indicates he was unable to comply with the request. “It is not in my power to aid Mr. Poe—I have a large sum of money to raise by Spring + find it difficult to make any collections. Will you be writing him? If so—can’t you send him this reply—with my regrets that I cannot afford the desired aid.” Valentine may have written his note to Poe’s sister’s friends Susan Archer Talley, who had delivered Poe’s letter to Valentine.
Less than a year later, Poe would finally find a financial backer for The Stylus, but Poe would die before the project could be realized.
The complete text of Poe’s letter is as follows:
New-York, — Nov. 20th 1848:
After a long & bitter struggle with illness, poverty, and the thousand evils which attend them, I find myself at length in a position to establish myself permanently, and to triumph over all difficulties, if I could but obtain, from some friend, a very little pecuniary aid. In looking around me for such a friend, I can think of no one, with the exception of yourself, whom I see the least prospect of interesting in my behalf — and even as regards yourself, I confess that my hope is feeble. In fact I have been so long depressed that it will be a most difficult thing for me to rise — and rise I never can without such aid as I now entreat at your hands. I call to mind, however, that, during my childhood, you were very kind to me, and, I believe, very fond of me. For this reason and because I really do not know where else to turn for the assistance I so much need at this moment, I venture to throw myself upon your generosity & ask you to lend me $200. With this sum I should be able to take the first steps in an enterprise where there could be no doubt of my success, and which, if successful, would, in one or two years ensure me fortune and very great influence. I refer to the establishment of a Magazine for which I have already a good list of subscribers, and of which I need a Prospectus — If for the sake of “auld lang syne” you will advance me the sum needed, there are no words which can express my gratitude.
Most sincerely yours,
Edgar A. Poe
Edward Valentine Esq
Be sure to visit the Poe Museum next month to see the exhibit From Poe’s Quill. If you would like to see some of Poe’s letters from the Poe Museum’s permanent collection, just visit our Collections Database.
Poe Letter to John Bisco
The Poe Museum’s new exhibit From Poe’s Quill: The Letters and Manuscripts of Edgar Allan Poe, which will run from April 26 until July 11, 2012, promises viewers the closest thing to standing over Poe’s shoulder while he writes his famous tales. Visitors will have the rare opportunity to study Poe’s unique handwriting and follow his thought process by exploring dozens of original documents culled from a number of public and private collections. Some of these pieces have never been publicly displayed. Others have only recently been discovered. The Poe Museum will celebrate the exhibit opening with an Unhappy Hour on Thursday, April 26 from 6-9 P.M.
The exhibit will include Poe’s handwritten letters, short stories, poetry, essays, and notes. Among the highlights of the exhibit are a letter written by Poe to American author Washington Irving (“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”), Poe’s autobiography, the earliest Poe manuscript in private hands, Poe’s last letter, and the only complete manuscript for a Poe tale in a private collection. The exhibit will also reunite fragments of manuscripts that have long been separated and owned by different collectors. An especially unusual piece will be poem supposedly written by Poe’s spirit (with the help of a medium) a decade after Poe’s death. This manuscript once belonged to Poe fan and collector Vincent Price.
The Poe Museum’s Curator Christopher Semtner says of the exhibit, “The Poe Museum will be celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, and we want to have an exhibit worthy of the occasion. Poe’s manuscripts are the most sought after manuscripts in American literature. Because he died young and because his works were not always appreciated during his lifetime, Poe’s letters and manuscripts are now relatively rare.”
When the exhibit opens on April 26, Poe Museum visitors will be able to see it an another “once-in-a-lifetime” exhibit Stormier, Wilder, and More Weird: James Carling and “The Raven,” which features, for the first time since 1975, the complete set of English artist James Carling’s circa 1883 drawings for Poe’s most famous poem. The Raven exhibit, which opened January 14, continues through May 1, 2012.
Samples from the upcoming exhibit are below.
The Spirits of the Dead
First Page of Manuscript for Epimanes
The Streets of Baltimore
Among the lenders to this exhibit are Susan Jaffe Tane, the Museum of the Macabre, and Anonymous Private Collectors.