An historic brick home in Richmond contains one of the largest collections of Edgar Allan Poe memorabilia in the world. How was Poe connected to the region, and why would lovers of his short stories, vibrant poems, and eerie horror stories flock here to a monument to his life and artistic contributions? Poe’s lifelong experiences in Richmond, from early development to late romances, make this the perfect home for a testament to his literary genius.
Born in Boston in 1809, Edgar Poe was orphaned only a year later when his father abandoned his family and his mother died of Tuberculosis. He was taken in by a wealthy merchant, John Allan, and brought to Richmond where he was raised. His name was changed by his foster family to “Edgar Allan Poe.”
Poe inherited a generous amount from Allan’s uncle as a young man, and purchased a Richmond home named Moldavia at an early age. He attended Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia, but unsuccessfully and only for one year. Amassing large amounts of gambling debts, Poe moved back to his native Boston, joined the United States Army under false pretenses, then later enlisted at West Point where he was court-martialed and forced to leave.
Poe’s family life was rocky at best. His relationship with John Allan was at times that of a spoiled child, and at others wrought by abuse. He was constantly falling in and out of favor, and ultimately was disowned. The pain and instability of his youth certainly contributed to his uniquely dark interpretation of the world around him, and beginning very early he wrote and published poems and short stories, ultimately pursuing a career as a paid writer.
His first job in Richmond was with the Southern Literary Messenger as Assistant Editor – a job he lost when he was caught drunk by his boss. As was his pattern, he moved back to his native Baltimore. Upon his marriage at the age of 26 to his 13-year-old cousin Virginia, however, he returned to Richmond and was reinstated at the Messenger on promises of good behavior. His life and career remained rocky and unstable, with highs including public acclaim of “The Raven” and lows culminating in his death in October 1849.
The Poe Museum houses collections of Poe’s personal items, furniture, fine art, photographs and his written work. An Enchanted Garden, described in one of his poems, greets guests and acts as a special event venue. The museum regularly hosts “Unhappy Hours” and during the pre-Halloween fall season, visitors enjoy the Poe’s Haunted Homecoming Tour. Self-guided tours are permitted 6 days per week (closed Mondays) and admission is $6 for adults, $5 for children and seniors citizens.
Whether you’re a fan or simply fascinated by his work and colorful personal history, you’ll enjoy a visit to the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia. Include it as a can’t-miss stop during your next stay at an Historic Richmond Inn!
Wikipedia: Edgar Allan Poe