Museum News


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 Museum Summer 2012 Newsletter


Here is the latest issue of the Poe Museum’s newsletter featuring updates on the Museum’s fall events. Summer2012newsletter5




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)




August Unhappy Hour Celebrates “Hop-Frog”


On August 23 from 6-9 P.M., the Poe Museum will host an Unhappy Hour featuring Poe’s classic revenge tale “Hop-Frog.” Join us for live music by accoustic duo Haze and Dacey, a cash bar, and a special installation of the story by Haunts of Richmond. Admission is free, but a $5 suggested donation is welcomed.




Find a Lost Treasure at the Poe Museum


Did you enjoy Treasure Island, The Da Vinci Code, or National Treasure? These and similar tales had their origins in Edgar Allan Poe’s 1843 tale of hidden treasure, invisible messages, cryptograms, riddles, and mysterious clues “The Gold-Bug.” It was Poe’s most popular story during his lifetime and has spawned countless imitations. Find out how it all began with an evening at the Poe Museum’s “Gold-Bug” Unhappy Hour.

On Thursday, July 26 from 6-9 P.M., the Poe Museum will host an Unhappy Hour and Carnival inspired by Poe’s classic treasure-hunt mystery “The Gold-Bug.” Guests can look forward to live music, Poe-themed carnival games, a performance of “The Gold-Bug,” a cash bar, and more. You can join the fun for a suggested donation of only five dollars. This is the perfect opportunity to rediscover “The Gold-Bug,” a forgotten treasure of world literature.

Click here to see photos and video from last summer’s carnival at the Poe Museum. This month’s event promises to be bigger and better.

Below are photos of the original illustrations for the first printing of the story as it appeared in the Philadelphia Dollar Newspaper in June 1843. Poe won a prize of $100 for the tale, and it was so popular it was reprinted in magazines around the world and even adapted into a play during the author’s lifetime.




Students Encounter Poe at Young Writers’ Conference


From June 17 until June 23, the 2012 Edgar Allan Poe Young Writers’ Conference brought students from across the country to the Poe Museum for a week focused on the craft of writing. When not taking seminars from professional writers—including award-winning poet J. Ron Smith, editor Mary Flinn, and novelist David Lawrence—the group, which included only one Virginian, toured area Poe sites around the Commonwealth.

In the above photo, the students are visiting Fort Monroe, at which Poe was stationed from December 1828 until April 1829. It was there that Poe attained the rank of Regimental Sergeant Major.

Here the students are visiting the University of Virginia, where they will see Poe’s dorm room and some of the Poe artifacts housed in the school’s library.

In this photo, the conferees are standing atop the mountain featured in Poe’s short story “A Tale of the Ragged Mountains.”

The conference director was Edgar Award-winning author and Poe Foundation President Dr. Harry Lee Poe, who is pictured here in the Ragged Mountains.

In the foreground is the grave of Elmira Royster Shelton, Poe’s first and last fiancée. It is just one of the important graves to be found in Shockoe HIll Cemetery. Following in Poe’s footsteps, the students also visited Elmira Shelton’s house, Poe’s mother’s grave, the birthplace of Jane Stanard (inspiration for “To Helen”) and more Richmond places familiar to Poe.

The students also visited a number of other Poe sites in Richmond as well as the Library of Virginia, where they saw some rare documents with the Director of Special Collections Tom Camden.

At the end of the week, each student read the works he or she wrote during the conference. Afterwards, they enjoyed refreshments at a reception held in their honor.

We would like to thank all those who made this year’s conference a success.

If you are interested in attending the 2013 conference, please let us know by emailing us at info@poemuseum.org or by calling us at 888-21-EAPOE. Information about next year’s conference will be posted on this website in the fall.




Young Writers Read Their Latest Works at the Poe Museum


Hear tomorrow’s great writers read their latest work. The Poe Museum will host a public reading by the participants in this year’s Edgar Allan Poe Young Writers’ Conference on Friday, June 22 from 7 to 8:30 P.M. This year, the conference accepted nine high school students from seven different states into a week-long intensive writing program for promising young writers. During the conference, the students are challenged to produce a work that can be read at the week-end public reading. Each day of the conference, attendees will have an opportunity to learn more about American writers Edgar Allan Poe by visiting the places he lived and worked or by taking special tours of prominent collections of Poe artifacts.

Directed by Edgar™ Award-winning author and Edgar Allan Poe cousin Dr. Harry Lee Poe, this exclusive conference is now entering its fifth year and has so far attracted students from across the country to spend a week learning the craft of writing from a variety of profession writers and editors. This year’s applicants hail from Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Wisconsin, and Virginia.

Admission to the reading and reception is free. Join us in supporting tomorrow’s great writers today.




An Unhappy Hour with extra bite … – “Berenice”


The Poe Museum celebrated its second Unhappy Hour of the season by putting the spotlight on “Berenice”, Poe’s 1835 tale of love, obsession and dentistry.

Berenice and Egaeus

Amber Boice as Berenice and Ryan Lee as Egaeus

The evenings festivities centered around a dramatic performance of the tale produced in cooperation with Haunts of Richmond and we were honored that Jeff Jerome of the Baltimore Poe House & Museum came down to see us and even graced each performance of the story with an informative introduction.

Poe Curators by the Old Stone House

Poe curators – Chris Semtner of the Richmond Poe Museum and Jeff Jerome of the Baltimore Poe House – posing outside the Old Stone House

Jeff Jerome with "Egaeus" and "Berenice"

Jeff Jerome getting into the spirit of the event with our “Berenice” actors

Richmond’s own Ethio-Jazz and World Groove powerhouse, Rattlemouth provided the evening’s musical accompaniment and their performance was much enjoyed by our guests.

Saxophonists Roger Carroll and Danny Finney of RattlemouthGuitarist George Lowe and Bassist Marc  Langelier of RattlemouthDrummer Robbie Kinter of RattlemouthBassist Marc Langelier and Percussionist Robbie Kinter of Rattlemouth

Various shots of Rattlemouth in action

Museum docent, Jessy Mullins educated and horrified guests with a brief presentation about 19th century dental practices and folks enjoyed wandering through our exhibits and taking in the ambience of the Enchanted Garden throughout the evening (despite there being a bit of rain).

Poe Museum docent Jessy Mullins

Jessy grossing people out about 19th century dentistry

"Berenice" and friend at Unhappy HourLovely Volunteer Ghouls at Unhappy HourFolks enjoying Unhappy Hour

Unhappy Hour atmosphere

It was a splendid evening full of bite and was enjoyed by all!

Tooth box!

Box o’ teeth used in the performance

As always, you can see more photos from the event (or share some of your own) by paying a visit to the Poe Museum’s flickr group.

Videos will be appearing on the museum’s Youtube channel soon as well, so keep an eye out!

Thanks to all who helped to make our May Unhappy Hour such a success!

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for our NEXT Unhappy Hour, which is coming up on June 28th, 2012 and will be themed around “The Oval Portrait”. This 1842 tale by Poe inspired Oscar Wilde to write The Picture of Dorian Gray and the event should make an indelible impression on all who attend.