Do you love literature and want to instill a love of reading and writing in future generations? Here’s something you can do today to help the Poe Museum cultivate that love of the written word for years to come: From 6 A.M. on September 19 until 6 P.M. on September 20, the Poe Museum is participating in the Amazing Raise, a great fundraising opportunity and competition for non-profits in the Greater Richmond area. Each organization in the Amazing Raise competes to get the most donors to contribute to their organization during the 36-hour period. In addition to receiving these donations, each organization also competes for prizes offered by the Community Foundation of Greater Richmond. These prizes include bonuses for the highest number of donations, the organization with the first 50 unique donations, the organization which gets the donation closest to sunset, and the longest distance donation. The donation form is located below, and you can also find it on the Community Foundation’s website.
Why help the Poe Museum?
Especially in today’s very competitive academic and professional environments, excellent written and oral communication skills are a necessity, but many students have difficulty in these disciplines because they lack interest in reading comprehension and writing. Many teachers tell us they struggle to convince their students to read—until they study Poe. Very often, Poe’s works are the first that students actually enjoy reading. As such, his works provide the perfect opportunity for educators to inspire a life-long love of reading in their students. Regrettably, these same educators have little time to focus on researching any individual author while trying to cover as many writers as possible in an effort to meet the requirements of standardized tests. That is where the Poe Museum can help. By providing guided tours, teleconference programs, off-site educational programs, educator information packets, educator workshops, and a website full of accurate information on Poe’s life and work, the Edgar Allan Poe Museum has become an invaluable aid to both teachers and students. By offering a multidisciplinary approach to interpreting literature, the Poe Museum’s programs address the standards of learning in a number of different disciplines including English, History, Art, and Science. For these reasons, the Poe Museum has become a trusted resource for educators around the globe. Just last week, we hosted a guided tour for a German group and sent educator information packets to teachers in 21 different states as well as educators in the Dominican Republic and Canada. In the month ahead, we will host tours for thousands of students and travel to sites throughout Virginia and Maryland to conduct off-site programs.
As the Poe Museum enters its ninety-first year, it faces new challenges. With corporate and local government support on the decline, expenses are on the increase. Rather than pass those expenses on to the already cash-strapped schools, the Poe Museum is seeking the support of those who believe in the importance of the Poe Museum’s mission. We hope we can count on your support today. Even a small donation can make a big difference. For more information, you can view the Poe Museum’s profile here, or you can visit our website.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
Here is the latest issue of the Poe Museum’s newsletter featuring updates on the Museum’s fall events. Summer2012newsletter5
Below is a call for papers for a new kind of Poe conference coming next summer to Charlottesville, Virginia.
Charlottesville, Virginia • June 24-26, 2013
Sponsored by The Poe Museum of Richmond, Virginia
at the Small Special Collections Library of the University of Virginia
CALL FOR PAPERS
Poe’s reputation as a tortured, tragic figure, melancholic poet and the “master of the macabre” has fueled his popularity for over a century and a half, while debunking stereotypes and myths associated with that reputation has always been an essential part of Poe criticism. Going beyond the debunking of the popular caricature, we would like to discover the “positive” side of Poe’s life and work. Just as his life had its ups and downs, his writing, too, reflects a wide range of experience, not exclusively the dark and dismal. We therefore invite papers on a broad diversity of subjects with a focus on the life-affirming and vital elements in Poe’s work. Papers may cover (but are not limited by) such themes as:
Poe and ethics (his ideas of love, friendship, manners)
Poe and art (aesthetic ideas in literature and criticism)
Science, philosophy, Eureka
Social and family life
Literary circles, friends and followers
Success stories of Poe’s poems and tales at home and abroad.
Deadline for submission of proposals is October 31, 2012.
Please submit proposals to Alexandra Urakova at email@example.com.
Organized by Harry Poe firstname.lastname@example.org 731-661-5404 and
Alexandra Urakova email@example.com
A guest at the modest cottage in which Poe lived during his final three years provided this description of meeting the poet in his home: “I well remember the pretty little house, a tiny white cottage, set up above the road, surrounded by tall shrubs, trees, and emerald grass. It was a modest abode, but tasteful, and so scrupulously clean and well ordered that at once on entering it one felt that it was no ordinary home…The door leading into the small “entry” to the house was generally open. Beside the narrow staircase leading to the upper rooms stood a large tube-rose plant, which sent its fragrance all over the house. A door to the right on entering opened into the sitting room, and it was here that Poe received his guests, three or four literary people, on the day I first saw him.”
(Elma Mary Gove Letchworth, “A Young Girl’s Recollections of Edgar Allan Poe” undated manuscript)
Poe lived in the cottage with his wife Virginia Clemm Poe, his mother-in-law Maria Clemm, his cat, and some pet birds. After Poe’s death on October 7, 1849, Maria Clemm moved from the cottage to live with friends who could care for her in her final years. (She would actually live another twenty-two years.)
I recently visited The Bronx and the small cottage Poe rented there (now maintained by the Bronx County Historical Scoiety). Although the house is now in an urban environment, it is still possible to imagine how it must have appeared in Poe’s day when it was surrounded by rolling hills and cherry trees. Once inside the house, a guest can see furniture of the kind that Poe and his small family would have used. In fact, they still have Virginia Poe’s bed and Edgar Poe’s rocking chair. After reading the accounts of Poe’s final days in that cottage, walking those halls and seeing the artifacts about which I’d read really brought history to life. The pictures below show some of what the cottage has to offer.
Above is a photo of Poe’s rocking chair.
Here is the bed in which Poe’s wife died. There are descriptions of her lying here, covered with her husband’s West Point great coat with her cat sleeping on her check to keep her warm.
The mirror in Virginia Poe’s bedroom is a replica of her mirror, which is now on display at the Poe Museum in Richmond. The elbow in the reflection belongs to my guide, museum educator Angel Hernandez.
A source recounts that “beside the narrow staircase leading to the upper rooms stood a large tube-rose plant, which sent its fragrance all over the house.” (Letchworth)
A description of this room by one of Poe’s guests: “The sitting-room floor was laid with check matting; four chairs, a light stand, and a hanging bookshelf completed its furniture. There were pretty presentation copies of books on the little shelves, and the Brownings had posts of honour on the stand. With quiet exultation Poe drew from his side pocket a letter that he had recently received from Elizabeth Barrett Browning. He read it to us. It was very flattering. She told Poe that his ‘poem of the Raven had awakened a fit of horror in England.’ This was what he loved to do. To make the flesh creep, to make one shudder and freeze with horror, was more to his relish (I cannot say more to his mind or heart) than to touch the tenderest chords of sympathy or sadness…”
(Mrs. Mary Gove Nichols, “Reminiscences of Edgar Poe,” Sixpenny Magazine, February 1, 1863)
Poe’s bedroom is now the orientation room in which visitors can watch a video about Poe’s time in the cottage. This description provides a young girl’s perspective on seeing the poet’s bedroom: “On one of our visits to Fordham I was allowed to accept Mrs Clemm’s invitation to spend the night. I felt very proud as my hostess took me over the little house and showed me the exquisitely neat bed-rooms. There was ‘Eddy’s room,’ and I wondered at the snowy pillows piled high for the poet’s head. ‘Eddy cannot sleep if his head lies low,’ said Mrs Clemm, and I thought how uncomfortable high his head must be, like sitting up in bed.
(Elma Mary Gove Letchworth, “A Young Girl’s Recollections of Edgar Allan Poe” undated manuscript)
This is the kitchen in which Poe’s mother-in-law Maria Clemm prepared the family’s meals. Mary Gove Nichols recounted of this room, “The floor of the kitchen was white as wheaten flour. A table, a chair, and a little stove that it contained, seemed to furnish it perfectly.” Click here to see the soup ladle Mrs. Clemm used at the cottage.
This bronze bust of Poe by Edmund T. Quinn was unveiled on January 19, 1909, the centennial of Poe’s birth. Though it was once displayed outdoors, the bust is now exhibited inside the cottage. In 1930, the Bronx Society of Arts and Sciences gave a plaster copy of this bust to the Poe Museum in Richmond. (You can even purchase a copy from our gift shop.)
Although Poe experienced the tragic death of his wife while living in this cottage, he also composed some of his greatest works, including “The Bells,” “Annabel Lee,” and “Eureka.” Over 163 years after Poe left the cottage, it still evokes the feeling expressed by one of Poe’s guest Mrs. Nichols: “The cottage had an air of taste and gentility that must have been lent to it by the presence of its inmates. So neat, so poor, so unfurnished, and yet so charming a dwelling I never saw.”
Learn more about the Poe cottage by visiting this website.
To see some of the pieces the family owned while living there, you can also visit the Poe Museum in Richmond, where you can see Virginia Poe’s mirror, Virginia’s trinket box, the family’s soup ladle, Maria Clemm’s clothing, and Edgar Poe’s clothing, boot hooks, trunk, and walking stick.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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)
Legends abound of otherworldly manifestations experienced at Richmond’s Edgar Allan Poe Museum. Books including The Ghosts of Virginia, Ghost Hunting Virginia, and The Shadows of Shockoe have recorded a few of these sightings, and a number of paranormal investigators have explored the Museum’s 258-year-old house, Enchanted Garden, and the rest of the complex in search of evidence of unexplained activity. Now the Poe Museum may finally put the legends to rest by opening the museum to public ghost hunts on August 11 and 18, 2012 from 9 P.M. to Midnight. The participants will be trained in investigative techniques by paranormal investigators from Spirited History, who will guide them through the investigation using the latest audio and video equipment. Because of limited space, all participants must reserve a spot and must be members of the Poe Museum in order to take part. Not a member? Learn about membership and sign up here. New and renewing members even get a tote bag with their membership. For more information on the ghost hunt, call 888-21-EAPOE or write email@example.com.
Ancient Egypt has long been of great fascination to the world, capturing the imaginations of everyone from the Greeks who conquered Egypt in 332 BC, all the way to people of our own time. Much of the ancient civilization’s culture is preserved in the monumental temples and pyramids, the cryptic hieroglyphics, and of course in the elaborate burials and mummifications that became the hallmark of Egypt. While the interest in Ancient Egypt continues on, it was perhaps at its most fervent in the Victorian era. Discoveries such as the Rosetta Stone by the French in 1799 made it possible for scholars to finally translate the hieroglyphics that had stumped them for centuries, and created an intense interest in this formerly mysterious culture.
It was with Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt and the discovery of the Rosetta Stone that the discipline of Egyptology was born. The publication of the essay Description de l’Égypte (1809-1829) officially made the study an academic discipline. Soon, historians, archaeologists, and anthropologists alike flocked to Egypt to excavate the tombs and study what was inscribed on the walls of its temples and other landmarks. Many of these excavations yielded crypts of pharaohs richly adorned with gold, jewels, and mummies, many of which were taken back to Europe to be put on display in museums. The people of the Victorian age came in droves to see these mummies, which both delighted and terrified them. There were even mummy unwrapping parties, which guests could attend and watch as the linen wrappings were peeled back to reveal the embalmed body inside. When Poe was fourteen, there was even a mummy on public display in the Senate Chamber of the Capitol in Richmond.
An Invitation to a Mummy Unwrapping Party
Poe wrote a satirical critique of this fascination with mummies entitled “Some Words With a Mummy” (published in 1845). The story is a commentary on the treatment of the artifacts of Ancient Egypt, particularly the mummies. Once back in Europe, many mummies were damaged or destroyed in the name of science by dissections and examinations, and others were stolen from their tombs by grave robbers to be ground into a powder which was thought to have medicinal properties. Poe’s mummy, Allamistakeo, admonishes his examiners on their treatment of him, showing the author’s view on the Egypt Mania and the disrespect of the tombs that had overtaken the Victorian era.
At the same time as the publication of “Some Words With a Mummy”, the Egyptian Building was being constructed to house the Medical College of Virginia here in Richmond. Designed by architect Thomas W. Stewart, the building is in the Egyptian Revival style and brings to mind the colossal temples that dot the Nile Valley. The choice to make the building very Egyptian in appearance may coincide with the Egypt Mania of the time, or perhaps ally the medical campus with Imhotep, the Egyptian priest who is thought to have been the first physician. The building became a national landmark in 1969, and is a treasured part of the MCV campus today. It has been in continual use since 1845, and houses an auditorium and classrooms.
The MCV Egyptian Building