Home Services Articles Books Photos Contact Us



   And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting,
still is sitting
   On the pallid bust of Pallas just above
my chamber door;
   And his eyes have all the seeming of a
demon's that is dreaming,
   And the lamp light o'er him streaming
throws his shadow on the floor;
   And my soul from out that shadow
that lies floating on the floor
   Shall be lifted--nevermore!

                       --Edgar Allan Poe
                       from "The Raven"

Edgar Allan Poe was a poet who had a flair for the spooky, an for those who want to learn more about him a visit to Richmond, Va. is a must. In fact, Poe pilgrims from more than 30 foreign countries and all 50 states come to the Edgar Allan Poe Museum each year.

The city's Poe Foundation and the Poe Museum are a mecca for people interested in the author and drawn to the work and favorite city of one of America's most famous writers. From the moment visitors step through the door of the Old Stone House, they are immersed in the writer and the city.

"Edgar Allan Poe is possibly the most famous person to have lived in Richmond," says Ron Furqueron, director of the museum.

In the nearly eight decades since the museum opened, the Poe Foundation has accumulated a wealth of historically important Poe-related artifacts and books. The foundation has a large number of Poe's original letters and manuscripts. Paintings and photographs of the author and his friends are an important part of the collection.

Edgar Allan Poe was born in 1809 in Boston, but it was in Richmond where he grew up, married, and gained a national literary reputation. Many of the places and objects in Richmond associated with his time are displayed in the museum.

Poe's mother, Elizabeth Arnold Poe, was an actress, who died in 1811, in Richmond. John and Frances Allan, partners in the merchant firm of Ellis and Allan, adopted Poe, who eventually took allan as his middle name.

All of the Allan homes in which Poe grew up have now disappeared. A photograph of Moldavia, his last home in Richmond, shows a large home with a double portico. Allan bought the home in 1825 and Poer lived there before entering the University of Virginia in 1826.

Poe's boyhood in Richmond is recalled in one of his finest poems, "To Helen." The beautiful poem was inspired by Jane Stith Craig Stanard, the mother of his school mate, Robert Stanard. She praised and encouraged Poe's early literary efforts and he repaid her in full with his stirring lines.

Poe's life in Richmond led to a love of literature, city life and mystery. While in the city, he read and roamed widely. From the city library to the streets, his experiences did much to influence his writing.

After a quarrel with John Allan in 1826, Poe left the university and the state and headed north to Boston. Soon after his arrival, he published his first book, Tamerlane and Other Poems. Some parts of the book were composed in Virginia and which reflects his rift with his Richmond family.

After a two-year stint in the army, a few months at the Military Academy at West Point, and the publication of a second volume of poems, Poe moved to Baltimore to live with relatives--his aunt Maria Clemm and her daughter, Virginia.

While in Baltimore, Poe published a number of short stories. He won first prize in a literary contest, with a story titled "MS found in a Bottle." His success led to a job as an assistant editor at the Richmond-based Southern Literary Messenger, and he returned to Richmond.

Poe worked at the Messenger from August 1835 to January 1837. He lived at Mrs. Yarrington's boarding house with his aunt and cousin, and there Poe and his young cousin, Virginia, were married in 1836.

While working at the Messenger, Poe wrote his only novel, "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym". The first part of the novel was published in the Messenger. He also composed the play, "Politan," and gained national attention as critic, poet, and writer of tales.

Poe left the Messenger for New York and Philadelphia, hoping to start his own literary journal. Though he made a decent living completing editorial work for magazines, he never succeeded as owner/editor of his own publication.

His wife died in 1847, and Poe returned to Richmond in 1848 and 1849. During that time, he lectured on "The Poetic Principle" and gave readings of "The Raven," the poem which had spread his fame throughout America and Europe. Tradition says that he gave his last reading of "The Raven" at Talavera, a historic home that is still standing. Poe left Richmond the next day and died two weeks later on Oct. 7, 1849.

The Poe museum opened in 1922 in the Old Stone House, Richmond's oldest standing structure. Four buildings have been added to house the ever-expanding Poe collection.

Guided tours of the museum begin with a large model of Richmond as Poe knew it, and visitors can retrace Poe's steps as he made his way around the city.

Across the quiet walled garden, the Elizabeth Arnold Poe Memorial Building houses many items the poet knew well. Artifacts abound in the main room, including a staircase from the 14th Street Allan home; furnishings from Moldavia; a desk and chair from Poe's Messenger office; a gallery of photographs, daguerreotypes, and paintings; and a number of Poe's personal effects. The building also features the massive 1885 sculpture by Richard H. Park honoring Poe and his parents.

The Exhibition Hall features a gallery of rotating exhibits downstairs. Upstairs, visitors find a small room recreating Poe's childhood bedroom, including his bed, coverlet, and mantle. One can almost imagine the dreams he must have had in that room. Across the hall, The Raven Room displays dark illustrations created by artist James Carling in the 1880s to evoke the images in Poe's most famous poem.

The Old Stone House, a building Poe knew well, serves as the final stop on the Poe tour. In Poe's day, the house was inhabited by German immigrants who built the house shortly after the city was founded. Today, it contains a museum shop where Poe fans can find a wide variety of items, ranging from valuable first editions to books, prints, postcards, and t-shirts.

The Edgar Allan Poe Museum is open all year, except Christmas Day. The hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 5pm and Sunday 11am to 5pm. Guided tours generally begin on the hour. For more information, visit the museum's website at www.poemuseum.org or call 800-648-5523.