As part of the festivities at the Poe Museum in Richmond celebrating Edgar Allan Poe’s 205th Birthday on Saturday, January 18 from noon to midnight, there will be a number of artists and writers signing books and prints for visitors.
Jeffrey Abugel, author of Edgar Allan Poe’s Petersburg, will be on hand to sign copies of his book and will give a brief talk about Poe’s honeymoon in Petersburg at 6:15 P.M.
Trish Foxwell will be here in the afternoon to sign A Visitor’s Guide to the Literary South, her great new book exploring sites related to southern authors including Poe, Faulkner, O’Connor, Fitzgerald, and more.
Some of the authors of the new anthology Virginia is for Mysteries will be here from 3-5 P.M. to sign their book. In attendance will be Heather Weidner, Fiona Quinn, Teresa Inge, Vivian Lawry, Meredith Cole, Yvonne Saxon, and Rosemary Shomaker.
At 9:30 P.M., we will have an author talk and book signing by James Mancia, author of The Poe Murders.
Artists Abigail Larson and Courtney Elizabeth will also be here throughout the day with trunk shows of their artwork for visitors to purchase.
To see a complete schedule of the day’s event, please click here. For more information, call 888-21-EAPOE or write [email protected]
The best history, like reality, is messy. Fiction, on the other hand, cleans up really well. Personally I prefer history over fiction nine times out of ten, the messier the better. Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen is good, clean fun if you like that sort of thing. It is good, clean fun even if you do not like that sort of thing. Ms. Cullen is an entertaining author whose other works include The Creation of Eve and Reign of Madness. For Mrs. Poe she has entered the abyss others ventured into before her to explore the [alleged] affair between one of literature’s greatest giants, Edgar Allan Poe, and one of the field’s lesser known but competent contributors, Frances Osgood.
The two met while both were writers in New York, and both were married to other people, more or less faithfully, according to which version you explore. Poe had, at the time this novel is set, just hit it big with his breakout blockbuster of a poem, The Raven, and while Mrs. Osgood styled herself a poet, she was more famous at the time for her children’s story, Puss In Boots.
As a fictionalized account of their relationship, a romantic novel, Mrs. Poe is no worse, and somewhat better than other accounts have been. My guess is that this will not be the final word on the subject either since we are obsessed with celebrities and their every move. And to give him his due, Poe was one of the first, if not the first celebrity of his day. The Raven was such a huge hit, Poe read it aloud to packed audiences every chance he got. He was so famous indeed children on the streets of Richmond taunted him as he passed by, and he cawed and flapped his arms like the legendary bird to amuse them.
If you are looking for a light diversion on a winter’s day, this and a cup of hot cocoa will fill the bill. If, however, you require more reality dosed with your history, you may take your own time travel back to those heady days in the budding intellectual community of New York and read the actual poetry that Poe and Osgood wrote to and for each other. His include two poems, one certainly which is a version of poetic regifting since, true to form, wrote it for someone else before and just rededicated it to F__ O__. Hers to him, if they are to him, were either to flatter her editor so he would publish her, or to stir up scandal, which is what happened. The biographic take on Mrs. Osgood has always been that as a lady, and a married woman, she would not have wanted to draw attention to the affair between herself and Poe, if indeed one existed. If you study her romantic baggage, however, you will discover that she went to the dark side in her amours, and courting Poe, a major stud muffin of his day, would have been right up her alley. She liked her boys bad, very bad indeed. And then of course, there is that baby… Was it Poe’s or was it her wayward husband’s? The fact is, we may never know. But the answer to that question that did not stop Ms. Cullen, as it has not stopped others before her from exploring this tricky area of intriguing mystery. It is a subject that renders itself tolerably well for a novel, but not quite up to the standard of Poe’s faithful readers.
After ninety-one years occupying the Old Stone House, the Poe Foundation finally owns the building. On Saturday, October 5, 2013, Anne Geddy Cross (pictured above), President of President of Preservation Virginia, signed the Deed of Gift transferring the house and garden from Preservation Virginia to the Poe Foundation. The Poe Foundation’s Past President Harry Lee Poe and its new President Annemarie Weathers Beebe gratefully accepted the gift. Preservation Virginia’s Director of Preservation Services Louis Malon and the Poe Museum’s Curator Chris Semtner, who have both been coordinating the transfer process over the past few years, were in attendance to witness the event. Before the transfer could take place, an easement was registered with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to protect the house from significant changes that would alter its historic character.
Representing the Ege family, who owned the property from at least 1748 until 1911, Tina Egge, fifth great niece of Jacob Ege (different branches of the family spelled the name differently), the builder of the house, attended the event. Rose Marie Mitchell, who has written a new book about the history of the Old Stone House, spoke and signed copies of her book in the Exhibits Building, which featured a temporary exhibit documenting the history of the house.
The Poe Foundation has owned the rest of the Poe Museum buildings and grounds since the 1920s, so it is fitting that the Old Stone House should finally come under its ownership. Although the enormous gift and the new easement are significant developments for the Poe Foundation, the museum’s visitors will not see a dramatic change in the way the museum operates. They will, however, see some dramatic changes next spring when the major Enchanted Garden restoration project sponsored by the Garden Club of Virginia is underway.
POE MUSEUM ANNOUNCES NEW BOARD PRESIDENT
The Poe Foundation of the Edgar Allan Poe Museum of Richmond, Virginia is proud to announce the election of its new board president, Annemarie Weathers Beebe of South Carolina. The Executive Director of Historic Rock Hill, Mrs. Beebe follows in a long line of distinguished Poe Foundation presidents including two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Dr. Douglas Southall Freeman and Edgar™ Award-winner Dr. Harry Lee Poe.
Assuming the position of Vice President is Dr. M. Thomas Inge. Serving a second term as Treasurer will be Jeffrey Chapman. Serving his first term as Secretary will be Robert A. Buerlein. The Poe Foundation’s executive committee will also consist of Past President Harry Lee Poe, Kassie Ann Olgas, Kia Ware, and Benjamin A.P. Warthen. The officers and executive committee were elected at the Poe Foundation biannual board meeting on October 5, 2013.
More Information about Edgar Allan Poe:
Edgar Allan Poe is the internationally influential author of such tales of “The Raven,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “The Black Cat.” He is credited with inventing the mystery genre as well as with pioneering both the modern horror story and science fiction. Poe died under mysterious circumstances at the age of forty. Although much of his life is known through contemporary documents, some areas of his life remain shrouded in mystery.
Opened in 1922, the Edgar Allan Poe Museum of Richmond is the world’s finest collection of Edgar Allan Poe artifacts and memorabilia. The five-building complex features permanent exhibits of Poe’s manuscripts, personal items, clothing, and a lock of the author’s hair. The Poe Museum’s mission is to interpret the life and influence of Edgar Allan Poe for a global audience. Edgar Allan Poe is America’s first internationally influential author, the inventor of the detective story, and the forerunner of science fiction; but he primarily considered himself a poet. His poems “The Raven,” “Annabel Lee,” and “The Bells” are classics of world literature.
For more information, contact Chris Semtner at the Poe Museum by email or call 888-21-EAPOE. More information and a complete list of Poe-related activities can be found here.
Anyone can celebrate a birthday, but the Poe Museum also celebrates a death day. On October 3, 2013, the Poe Museum in Richmond will observe the anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s death (October 7, 1849), with a tribute from Elmira Shelton, the woman to whom Poe was engaged when he died. Debbie Phillips, who has also performed for the museum as Poe’s mother Eliza Poe, returns for a historical interpretation based on years of research into Poe’s last love. After the performance, “Elmira” will stay to mingle with guests. Tours of the museum will explore the themes of death and mourning in Poe’s time. The event will last from 6P.M. until 9 P.M. Refreshments will be available.
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.
Today is February 29th, a leap day, which marks the bicentennial of the first leap-year Edgar Allan Poe ever experienced during his lifetime.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the phrase “leap-year” has been used since 1387, and is probably of older formation than that. Thus, the phrase “leap-year” would have been around during Poe’s lifetime. Still, Poe might have been more likely to associate the word “leap” with a favorite childhood game of his, leap-frog.
As an energetic young child, Poe would often play leap-frog with the Mackenzies, the family that raised Poe’s sister Rosalie. However, these childhood experiences were not Poe’s only involvements with the game. In his adult life, while living in Fordham, New York, Poe played a game of leap-frog in the woods with friends and admirers. The game ended when he landed with such force that his shoes were torn.
Poe would later go on to write “Hop-Frog”, a horror story about a crippled dwarf court jester who exacts revenge upon the king he serves. “Hop-Frog”, the name of titular character in the story, is a term synonymous with “leap-frog”, the very game that Poe enjoyed at various points in his life.
above: illustration of “Hop-Frog”
Over the course of his forty years, Edgar Allan Poe lived through ten leap days. The last February 29th of his lifetime occurred in 1848, on which date he wrote two similar letters to George W. Eveleth and George E. Isbell. The George Eveleth letter is as follows:
My Dear Sir,
I mean to start for Richmond on the 10th March. Every thing has gone as I wished it, and my final success is certain, or I abandon all claims to the title of Vates. The only contretemps of any moment, lately, has been Willis’s somewhat premature announcement of my project: — but this will only force me into action a little sooner than I had proposed. Let me now answer the points of your last letter.
Colton acted pretty much as all mere men of the world act. I think very little the worse of him for his endeavor to succeed with you at my expense. I always liked him and I believe he liked me. His intellect was o. His “I understand the matter perfectly,” amuses me. Certainly, then, it was the only matter he dil understand. “The Rationale of Verse” will appear in “Graham” after all: — I will stop in Phil: to see the proofs. As for Godey, he is a good little man and means as well as he knows how. The editor of the “Weekly Universe” speaks kindly and I find no fault with his representing my habits as “shockingly irregular”. He could not have had the “personal acquaintance” with me of which he writes; but has fallen into a very natural error. The fact is thus: — My habits are rigorously abstemious and I omit nothing of the natural regimen requisite for health: — i.e — I rise early, eat moderately, drink nothing but water, and take abundant and regular exercise in the open air. But this is my private life — my studious and literary life — and of course escapes the eye of the world. The desire for society comes upon me only when I have become excited by drink. Then only I go — that is, at these times only I have been in the practice of going among my friends: who seldom, or in fact never, having seen me unless excited, take it for granted that I am always so. Those who really know me, know better. In the meantime I shall turn the general error to account. But enough of this: the causes which maddened-me to the drinking point are no more, and I am done drinking, forever. — I do not know the “editors & contributors” of the “Weekly Universe” and was not aware of the existence of such a paper. Who are they? or is it a secret? The “most distinguished of American scholars” is Prof. Chas. Anthon, author of the “Classical Dictionary”.
I presume you have seen some newspaper notices of my late lecture on [page 2:] the Universe. You could have gleaned, however, no idea of what the lecture was, from what the papers said it was. All praised it — as far as I have yet seen — and all absurdly misrepresented it. The only report of it which approaches the truth, is the one I enclose — from the “Express” — written by E. A. Hopkins — a gentleman of much scientific acquirement — son of Bishop Hopkins of Vermont — but he conveys only my general idea, and his digest is full of inaccuracies. I enclose also a slip from the “Courier & Enquirer”: — please return them. To eke out a chance of your understanding what I really dil say, I add a loose summary of my propositions & results:
The General Proposition is this: — Because Nothing was, therefore All Things are.
1 — An inspection of the universality of Gravitation — i.e, of the fact that each particle tends, not to any one common point, but to every other particle — suggests perfect totality, or absolute unity, as the source of the phaenomenon.
2 — Gravity is but the mode in which is manifested the tendency of all things to return into their original unity; is but the reaction of the first Divine Act.
3 — The law regulating the return — i.e, the law of Gravitation — is but a necessary result of the necessary & sole possible mode of equable irradiation of matter through space: — this equable irradiation is necessary as a basis for the Nebular Theory of Laplace.
4 — The Universe of Stars (contradistinguished from the Universe of Space) is limited.
5 — Mind is cognizant of Matter only through its two properties, attraction and repulsion: therefore Matter is only attraction & repulsion: a finally consolidated globe of globes, being but one particle, would be without attraction, i e, gravitation; the existence of such a globe presupposes the expulsion of the separative ether which we know to exist between the particles as at present diffused: — thus the final globe would be matter without attraction & repulsion: — but these are matter: — then the final globe would be matter without matter: — i,e, no matter at all: — it must disappear. Thus Unity is Nothingness.
6. Matter, springing from Unity, sprang from Nothingness: — i,e, was created.
7. All will return to Nothingness, in returning to Unity.
Read these items after the Report. As to the Lecture, I am very quiet about it — but, if you have ever dealt with such topics, you will recognize the novelty & moment of my views. What I have propounded will (in good time) revolutionize the world of Physical & Metaphysical Science. I say this calmly — but I say it.
I shall not go till I hear from you.
E A Poe
Compared to the George Isbell letter:
A press of business has hitherto prevented me from replying to your letter of the 10th.
“The Vestiges of Creation” I have not yet seen; and it is always unsafe and unwise to form opinions of books from reviews of them. The extracts of the work which have fallen in my way, abound in inaccuracies of fact: — still these may not materially affect the general argument. One thing is certain; that the objections of merely scientific men — men, I mean, who cultivate the physical sciences to the exclusion, in a greater or less degree, of the mathematics, of metaphysics and of logic — are generally invalid except in respect to scientific details. Of all persons in the world, they are at the same time the most bigoted and the least capable of using, generalizing, or deciding upon the facts which they bring to light in the course of their experiments. And these are the men who chiefly write the criticisms against all efforts at generalization — denouncing these efforts as “speculative” and “theoretical”.
The notice of my Lecture, which appeared in the “New-World”, was written by some one grossly incompetent to the task which he undertook. No idea of what I said can [page 2:] be gleaned from either that or any other of the newspaper notices — with the exception, perhaps, of the “Express” — where the critique was written by a gentleman of much scientific acquirement — Mr E. A. Hopkins, of Vermont. I enclose you his Report — which, however, is inaccurate in numerous particulars. He gives my general conception so, at least, as not to caricature it.
I have not yet published the “Lecture[”], but, when I do so, will have the pleasure of mailing you a copy. In the meantime, permit me to state, succinctly, my principal results.
GENERAL PROPOSITION. Because Nothing was, therefore All Things are.
1 — An inspection of the universality of Gravitation — of the fact that each particle tends not to any one common point — but to every other particle — suggests perfect totality, or absolute unity, as the source of the [p]haenomenon.
2. Gravity is but the mode in which is manifested the tendency of all things to return into their original unity.
3. I show that the law of the return — i.e the law of gravity — is but a necessary result of the necessary and sole possible mode of equable irradiation of matter through a limiter space.
4. Were the Universe of stars — (contradistinguished from the universe of space) unlimited, no worlds could exist.
5. I show that Unity is Nothingness.
6. All matter, springing from Unity, sprang from Nothingness. i e, was created.
7. All will return to Unity; i e — to Nothingness. I would be obliged to you if you would let me know how far these ideas are coincident with those of the “Vestiges”.
Very Respy Yr. Ob. st
Edgar A Poe
Happy leap-day everyone, and “hop” on over to the Poe Museum sometime soon, lest you share the fate of Hop-Frog’s King!
Poe (left) and Dickens (right)
Charles Dickens turned 200 today. Many readers know the novels of Dickens, but few may know that he and Poe were personally acquainted. Edgar Allan Poe was an admirer of Dickens’s works since “strongly recommending” Dickens’s works to American readers in a June 1836 review from the Southern Literary Messenger. In an 1839 issue of Burton’s Magazine, Poe wrote, “Charles Dickens is no ordinary man, and his writings must unquestionably live.”
Three years later, during Dickens’s 1842 tour of the United States, he met Poe in Philadelphia. Though we do not know exactly what was said during their conversation, we can assume Dickens agreed to help Poe find publishers for his work in England. There is no evidence Dickens told Poe about the death of his pet raven Grip, but, by the time of their meeting, Poe had already read Dickens’s novel Barnaby Rudge, which features a talking raven.
Today, three letters from Dickens to Poe survive as evidence of the meeting of Poe and Dickens. The texts are printed below.
Upon receiving Poe’s invitation to meet, Dickens wrote Poe:
United States Hotel, March 6, 1842.
My Dear Sir, — I shall be very glad to see you whenever you will do me the favor to call. I think I am more likely to be in the way between half-past eleven and twelve, than at any other time. I have glanced over the books you have been so kind as to send me, and more particularly at the papers to which you called my attention. I have the greater pleasure in expressing my desire to see you on this account. Apropos of the “construction” of “Caleb Williams,” do you know that Godwin wrote it backwards, — the last volume first, — and that when he had produced the hunting down of Caleb, and the catastrophe, he waited for months, casting about for a means of accounting for what he had done?
Faithfully yours always,
After returning to London, Dickens wrote Poe:
London, 1 Devonshire Terrace, York Gate, Regent’s Park,
November 27, 1842.
Dear Sir, — by some strange accident (I presume it must have been through some mistake on the part of Mr. Putnam in the great quantity of business he had to arrange for me), I have never been able to find among my papers, since I came to England, the letter you wrote to me at New York. But I read it there, and think I am correct in believing that it charged me with no other mission than that which you had already entrusted to me by word of mouth. Believe me that it never, for a moment, escaped my recollection; and that I have done all in my power to bring it to a successful issue — I regret to say, in vain.
I should have forwarded you the accompanying letter from Mr. Moxon before now, but that I have delayed doing so in the hope that some other channel for the publication of our book on this side of the water would present itself to me. I am, however, unable to report any success. I have mentioned it to publishers with whom I have influence, but they have, one and all, declined the venture. And the only consolation I can give you is that I do not believe any collection of detached pieces by an unknown writer, even though he were an Englishman, would be at all likely to find a publisher in this metropolis just now.
Do not for a moment suppose that I have ever thought of you but with a pleasant recollection; and that I am not at all times prepared to forward your views in this country, if I can.
Almost four years later, Dickens wrote Poe:
1 Devonshire Terrace, London. Nineteenth March 1846.
Although I have not received your volume, I avail myself of a leisure moment to thank you for the gift of it.
In reference to your proposal as regards the Daily News, I beg to assure you that I am not in any way connected with the Editorship or current Management of that Paper. I have an interest in it, and write such papers for it as I attach my name to. This is the whole amount of my connection with the Journal.
Any such proposition as yours, therefore, must be addressed to the Editor. I do not know, for certain, how that gentleman might regard it; but I should say that he probably has as many corespondents in America and elsewhere, as the Paper can afford space to.
I am Dear Sir
Edgar A. Poe Esquire
Here is the latest issue of the Poe Museum’s newsletter Evermore containing updates on the Museum’s events, exhibits, and its 90th anniversary.
In honor of Edgar Allan Poe’s mother on the bicentennial of her death, a Richmond artist painted these two portraits of Eliza Poe. The first is closely based on the only surviving life portrait of Eliza Poe.
The second portrait was painted from the actress Debbie Phillips during one of her performances as Eliza Poe. This painting is currently hanging in the Poe Museum’s gift shop.