Museum News


In the footsteps of Poe – The University of Virginia


In 1826, Poe left Richmond to attend the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He enrolled at the university on February 14th, 1826. He was part of the second class to matriculate at Mr. Jefferson’s University. While in Charlottesville, Poe studied Ancient and Modern Languages and distinguished himself in both subjects. He appears to have been well-liked by other students and teachers and his room (number 13!) on the West Range at the University was a popular gathering place where Poe would entertain friends with tales of his own devising.

Unfortunately, Poe’s time at the University of Virginia was short-lived. His foster father, John Allan sent him to Charlottesville with insufficient funds to cover Poe’s school expenses. Mr. Allan did not respond to Poe’s requests for financial help, so Edgar resorted to gambling in an attempt to pay his bills. Edgar had no luck at this and wound up about $2000 in debt (bearing in mind that by his estimation, his bills at UVA would have totaled about $350 for the entire year). He left the University of Virginia on the 15th of December 1826 in disgrace.

Poe’s time at UVA has come to be appreciated in the ensuing years and his legacy there is maintained by The Raven Society, a prestigious honor society founded in 1904. The Raven Society lovingly maintains room # 13 on the West Range much as it must have appeared in Poe’s time and sponsors scholarships and fellowships to honor academic excellence.

Here is a picture of Poe’s West Range room from the Raven Society’s website:

Poe's room at the University of Virginia - Raven Society photo

On December 5, 2011, I got to attend a Virginia Association of Museums workshop at the University of Virginia Art Museum with fellow staff member Jennifer. We were inspired by the workshop and decided to do a little touring of UVA after we’d finished for the day.

We tracked down Poe’s dorm room on West Range and took pictures (of course!). We are geeks about such things here at the Poe Museum! (Endearing geeks. We hope.)

Jennifer visiting Poe's dorm room at UVA Melanie visiting Poe's dorm room at UVA

Jennifer and Melanie in 2 different photos by the door to room #13 West Range

We also checked out the nearby historic marker devoted to Poe and visited the Rotunda, the centerpiece of Jefferson’s plan for the University. (It would still have been under construction when Poe was there.)

Jennifer with Poe's Historic Marker at UVA

Jennifer with Eddy’s historical marker

UVA Rotunda on a cloudy December Day

The UVA Rotunda on the day of our visit – it was a bit cloudy, but rather appropriately atmospheric under the circumstances

For more information on Poe at the University of Virginia, check out the Raven Society’s website – it’s worth the visit!



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