Museum News


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.




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




A Poe Family Bible and Other Genealogical Information from the Poe Museum’s Collection


The Poe Museum is regularly contacted by Poe family members looking for information about their relationship to Edgar Allan Poe. Although, the Museum’s main focus is Edgar Allan Poe, but its archives do contain some material related to his extended family. Among the pieces concerning Poe’s genealogy, George Poe, Jr.’s bible and the typescript of The Poe Family of Maryland are the most informative. These documents from the museum’s collection may not be of use to everyone seeking Poe genealogical information, but we hope they will be of interest to both Poe family members and the general public. You can read the documents by clicking on the links below.

The first piece is a Poe family that originally belonged to George Poe, Jr. (1778-1864). George’s father was Edgar’s grandfather’s brother, which means George and Edgar Poe’s father, David Poe, Jr., were first cousins. George Poe, Jr. was a successful banker, and both Edgar Poe and his father asked him for loans. George rejected a 1809 request from Poe’s father but did send Edgar Poe $100 in 1836 in order to help Edgar‘s mother-in-law open a boardinghouse.

This is a picture of George Poe, Sr. (1744-1823) and his wife Catherine Poe (1742-1806).

The most interesting feature of this bible is the family history contained on the pages seen here. Notice the diagram of a Poe family burial plot at Westminster Burying Grounds in Baltimore. Edgar was buried in the same cemetery but in a different plot—that of his paternal grandfather David Poe, Sr. In 1875, Edgar’s remains were moved to their present location near the cemetery gate.

This following link takes you to a PDF of the pages of Poe family births and deaths from the bible:

George Poe’s Bible

The next piece reproduced here is a typescript entitled The Poe Family of Maryland. It was given to the Poe Museum in 1930 by the granddaughter of Edgar Poe’s cousin Amelia Poe, twin sister of Neilson Poe (1809-1888). Edgar called Nielson his “worst enemy in the world.” Before Edgar married his cousin Virginia Clemm, Neilson, who was married to Virginia’s half-sister Josephine Emily Clemm, offered to take Virginia into his own home to see that she was properly educated.

Here is a fine photograph of Neilson Poe’s father Jacob Poe, brother of George Poe, Jr.

The link below takes you to a PDF of the typsecript:

The Poe Family of Maryland

The above images were pasted onto pages of the typescript. Also included was this photograph of a pastel portrait of Edgar Allan Poe. Notice it is copyrighted 1893. That is the year Neilson Poe’s daughter Amelia Poe requested that the original 1868 pastel by Oscar Halling (then in the possession of Neilson’s son John Prentiss Poe) be photographed in order to sell the photos at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Over the years, Poe relatives have contributed to the Poe Museum’s collections by donating pieces like Virginia Clemm Poe’s trinket box, Edgar Allan Poe’s vest, and Amelia Poe’s album containing Poe’s manuscript for “To Helen.” They have also donated portraits of various Poe family members. This is said to represent William Poe (1755-1804), the youngest brother of Edgar’s grandfather David Poe, Sr.

The Poe Museum would not have survived for the past ninety years without the help of Edgar Allan Poe’s relatives around the world. The museum will always be grateful for their contributions.




Lecture will Reveal an Unknown Poe


On December 3, 2011 at 1:00 P.M. at the Parish Hall at St. John’s Church, the Poe Museum will present a lecture by distinguished Poe scholar Richard Kopley on his thirty years of focused research into the hidden meanings of Edgar Allan Poe’s works. Kopley’s forty-five minute talk, “My Adventures with Poe,” will change the way you see Poe and his best-known stories and poems. Kopley’s original perspectives on Poe’s timeless works will provide fresh insights into Poe’s inspirations and creative process.

Richard Kopley is Associate Professor of English at Penn State DuBois and Head of the Division of English for Penn State’s Commonwealth College. He is the author of a forthcoming volume on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter, as well as of numerous scholarly articles on Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville. He is the editor of Poe’s Pym: Critical Explorations (Duke UP, 1992), Prospects for the Study of American Literature (New York UP, 1997), and the Penguin edition of Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (1999). He is also co-editor of the journal Resources for American Literary Study, past president of the Poe Studies Association, and a trustee of the Edgar Allan Poe Museum.

Kopley’s scrutiny of Poe’s works and comprehensive understanding of Poe’s life has allowed him to see Poe in new ways. One of Kopley’s theories is that Poe’s detective stories could have been a response to an unsolved mystery in his own life. According to Kopley, “Poe’s biological father abandoned the family 12 months before his sister, Rosalie, was born, and that was a very big deal at the time. I’m inferring that Poe created the detective story and the character of Dupin [hero of Poe’s stories “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Purloined Letter,” and “The Mystery of Marie Roget”] to solve mysteries in place of the mystery he can’t solve: who is Rosalie’s father?”

The lecture is free to the public, and copies of Kopley’s limited edition booklet The Very Profound Under-Current in Arthur Gordon Pym will be available for signing and purchase.




Buy books and help the Poe Museum raise money!


Get into the Halloween spirit and help raise money for the Poe Museum by shopping at the Chesterfield Towne Center Barnes & Noble on October 23rd!

Poe Pumpkin and Portrait

All you have to do is come to the store (located at 11500 Midlothian Turnpike) on October 23rd, 2011 and buy books. When you get to the register mention you are with the Poe Museum and a percentage of the money you spend will go to support the Poe Museum in Richmond. Anything you buy, from books to Nooks to muffins in the coffee shop helps.

We’ll have a host of fun and activities throughout the day including Black Cat & Raven puppet making, readings of Poe’s works and readings from the new Richmond Macabre horror anthology as well as a special appearance by Unhappy Hour favorite Beggars of Life.

Here is a schedule of the activities planned for the day:

10 A.M.-Noon Make your own black cat and raven puppets
Noon “The Pit and the Pendulum” read by Scott Bergman of Haunts of Richmond
1 P.M. Reading from the new horror anthology Richmond Macabre
2 P.M. Horror makeup demonstration by actor Keith Kaufelt
3 P.M. “Do You Know Poe?” Talk by Poe Museum Curator Chris Semtner
4 P.M. Another reading from Richmond Macabre
5:30 P.M. “The Tell-Tale Heart” Performed by Jamie Ebersole
6 P.M.-7:30 P.M. Live Music by Beggars of Life

So come out and do some shopping for All Hallow’s Read (What is “All Hallow’s Read”, you ask? Learn more here: http://www.allhallowsread.com) or get an early start on your Holiday shopping and feel good about helping the Poe Museum out at the same time!

Can’t make it out to Chesterfield Towne Center on the 23rd?
You can still help the Poe Museum by participating in our ONLINE BOOKFAIR from October 23rd through October 28th. Just visit bn.com/bookfairs and enter the Bookfair ID # 10564045 before you check out.

Buying books and helping out the Poe Museum, what could be better?




Poe Young Writers’ Conference Application Now Available Online


Are you the next Edgar Allan Poe? Find out June 17-23, 2012 at the next Edgar Allan Poe Young Writers’ Conference sponsored by the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia. More information is available here.

The application for this year’s conference is now available at the link below.
Poe_Writers_Conf_App




Interview of Richmond Macabre editors on WRIR


An interview with Richmond Macabre editors Phil Ford and Beth Brown was aired today at noon on WRIR’s Wordy Birds radio show. If you missed it, you can listen at:

http://www.richmondmacabre.com/wordy.mp3

Listen for the references to Poe and the Museum!

Richmond Macabre is a short fiction anthology featuring 15 horror stories set in Richmond, Virginia.

Richmond Macabre will be released tomorrow, October 1st. The Poe Museum will be hosting a launch party October 2nd from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. Authors will be giving readings of excerpts from the book and will be on hand to give signings. DJ Sean Lovelace will be providing spooky music, as well as an interactive experience with a Theramin for party guests. The Museum’s exhibits will be open, including new exhibits featuring mourning customs during Edgar Allan Poe’s lifetime and an art gallery containing pieces inspired by The Raven. Light refreshments will be served.

Copies of Richmond Macabre will be available for $19.95. Posters of Richmond artist Noah Scalin’s cover art will be available for $20.00. Admission to this event is free.




The Raven’s Bride – Author Talk and Book Signing


lenore hart reading

The saying goes that “behind every great man is a great woman.” Imagine what kind of woman it must have taken to support and encourage the master of mystery and psychological terror, Edgar Allan Poe. Poe was twenty-seven years old when he married his thirteen-year-old cousin Virginia, who would follow him from Richmond to Philadelphia and New York for eleven years before her early death. Although volumes have already been written on Poe, far too little is known about the person who knew him better than anyone throughout his brief and turbulent career.

Author Lenore Hart set out to try to right this wrong with her new historical fiction book, The Raven’s Bride, a novel written from the point of view of Edgar Allan Poe’s wife Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe. The novel uses elements of the supernatural as well as historical research to try to give readers an idea of what life might have been like for Virginia Poe.

Lenore Hart paid the Poe Museum a visit on May 12, 2011 to talk about the novel to a crowd of interested listeners. She also read a few passages from the novel and answered questions from the audience. A good time was had by all.

Here is a link to a very good review of the book: http://www.historicalnovels.info/Ravens-Bride.html

raven'sbride

We still have a limited number of signed copies of The Raven’s Bride available in the Poe Museum gift shop. If you’d like to reserve one, please call us at 804-648-5523.