Dear Friend of the Poe Museum,
This morning two busloads of students arrived at the Poe Museum. In addition to touring the museum’s exhibits, the groups participated in a scavenger hunt, watched a performance of “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and took a walking tour of neighborhood Poe sites. These are just a few of the programming options we now offer teachers in order to address the ever changing needs of their students. When classes are unable to visit the museum, we bring activities to schools and libraries throughout the Mid-Atlantic region or hold video conferences with schools outside the region. As teachers’ needs evolve, the Poe Museum will continue to adapt and to find new ways to cultivate a lifelong love of reading in audiences of all ages. This is one reason the Poe Museum has continued to serve for the past ninety years, and this is how it will thrive for the next ninety.
With all the changes taking place in its exhibits and programming, now is a great time to be a part of the Poe Museum. Earlier this year, we hosted a major exhibit of dozens of Poe manuscripts and letters which boosted our summer admissions by 26%. In June, students from across the country travelled to Richmond for the Fifth Annual Edgar Allan Poe Young Writers’ Conference. In October, we placed a marker on the grave of Poe’s first and last fiancée Elmira Royster Shelton because the legend on her gravestone has completely worn away. Throughout the year, the museum’s renowned collection continued to grow with the major acquisitions of the first printing of “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the only surviving manuscript for Poe’s poem “To Helen,” and several important books about Poe’s life and work from the collection of influential early twentieth century Poe scholar James Southall Wilson. In the year ahead, we look forward to hosting another Young Writers’ Conference as well as the first Positively Poe Conference, at which leading Poe scholars will explore Poe’s life affirming contributions to the arts and culture. We are already booking group tours for the spring semester and preparing for next year’s exhibits.
As the Poe Museum prepares for another exciting year, we continue to face challenges ranging from recent severe weather that caused the cancellation of several tours and off-site programs to the expenses associated with maintaining both our artifacts and the two-hundred sixty-year-old building that houses them. The Poe Museum has lasted ninety years because generations of donors have supported it along the way, and the museum will continue to promote Poe’s legacy for another ninety years with the help of you and future generations of members and donors. We are mindful that the City of Baltimore has closed the Poe House. As a private museum, we do not take our supporters for granted. If you have not made your annual donation to the Poe Museum this year, now is a perfect time to do so. You can donate right now by clicking this link. Your gift of $20, $50, $100, $500, or more can help us keep the Poe Museum’s programs available and affordable for audiences of all ages.
Harry Lee Poe
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Artwork above by Abigail Larson)
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.
Here is the latest issue of the Poe Museum’s newsletter featuring updates on the Museum’s fall events. Summer2012newsletter5
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.
The Poe Museum’s new special exhibit “Stormier, Wilder, and More Weird: James Carling and ‘The Raven’” opened on January 14, and visitors were in awe of Carling’s 43 masterful drawings, which fill both floors of the Exhibit Building.
The artist who produced these drawings, James Carling, was born in 1857 in Liverpool. He was fifth son of Henry Carling, a blacking maker. When James was five years old, he began to earn a living as an errand boy and singer. He would even recite the poetry of Shakespeare on street corners for spare change. Encouraged by his older brothers, James started drawing pictures on sidewalks, and he soon found passersby filling his hat with pocket change. At the age of seven, he was arrested for drawing on the sidewalk and was jailed overnight before being sentenced to seven days in a workhouse. He was sent to a technical school for six years. Though the court had sentenced Carling to attend the school, it demanded his father pay for tuition. When Carling’s father refused to pay, he was thrown in jail, where he died. Carling was fourteen when he completed his sentence at the school. Upon his release, he travelled with his brothers to the United States, where they resumed their careers as street artists. Carling eventually found work as a vaudeville performer billed as the “Lightning Caricaturist” and “the Fastest Drawer in the World.” In 1883, it was announced that Harper Brothers would be publishing an edition of Poe’s poem “The Raven” with illustrations by the French artist Gustave Dore. It was about this time that Carling began his own set of drawings for the poem. The drawings remained unpublished at the time of Carling’s death, four years later in 1887. He was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave. The drawings remained in storage for over fifty years until Carling’s brother decided to exhibit them in 1930. Response to the work was so positive that the Poe Museum purchased the set in 1937.
Below is a small sample of the work on display. These pieces have so many strange and subtle details that the photos provided below can only give a faint impression of the experience of seeing the entire series up close. For more information about the Poe Museum’s collection of James carling’s illustrations for “The Raven,” visit our Collections Database. The exhibit continues until May 1, 2012, so be sure not to miss it.