Knowing Poe: The Literature, Life and Times of Edgar Allan Poe... In Baltimore and Beyond



Maryland Public Television
2005 Webby Award Winner!
border
border border
Primary Source Documents
border
Random Raven

Documents and Pictures related to Poe's life

*****

Oval Photograph of Poe

Oval Photograph of Poe
Image courtesy of the Enoch Pratt Free Library
From the Amelia Poe Collection, Enoch Pratt Free Library

This is a copy photograph of the portrait painted by Oscar Halling in the late 1860's. Halling used the "Thompson" daguerreotype, one of the last portraits taken of Poe in 1849, as a model for this painting. This image is probably one of the many photographic copies authorized and copyrighted by Amelia Poe in 1893.

Back to Top

*****

A Sketch of Virginia Clemm Poe

A Sketch of Virginia Clemm Poe
Image courtesy of the Enoch Pratt Free Library

Virginia Clemm married her "Eddie" on May 16, 1836 in Richmond, Virginia. She was 13 at the time, and Poe was 27.

Back to Top

*****

An original manuscript of Poe's poem "A Valentine"

An original manuscript of Poe's poem 'A Valentine'

  • Click the image to view the full-size document. Use your browser's Back button to return to this page.
  • Click here to read a transcript of this letter.

Poe often wrote poetry dedicated to his lady friends. This poem was dedicated to Mrs. Frances Sargent Osgood, a poet herself. Mrs. Osgood's full name is spelled with one letter on each line, the first letter of the first line ("F"), the second letter of the second line ("r"), the third letter of the third line ("a"), etc.

A sketch of Mrs. Osgood from the book The Female Poets of America
Image courtesy of the Enoch Pratt Free Library

A sketch of Mrs. Osgood from the book The Female Poets of America.



Transcription:

For Her Whose Name is Written Within

Valentine's Eve. 1846

For her these lines are penned, whose luminous eyes,
Bright and expressive as the stars of Leda,
Shall find her own sweet name that, nestling, lies
Upon this page, enwrapped from every reader.
Search narrowly these words, which hold a treasure
Divine — a talisman, an amulet
That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure —
The words — the letters themselves. Do not forget
The smallest point, or you may lose your labor.
And yet there is in this no Gordian knot
Which one might not undo without a sabre
if one could merely understand the plot.
Upon the open page on which are peering
Such sweet eyes now, there lies, I say, perdu,
A musical name oft uttered in the hearing
Of poets, by poets — for the name is a poet's too.
In common sequence set, the letters lying,
Compose a sound delighting all to hear —
Ah, this you'd have no trouble in descrying
Were you not something, of a dunce, my dear -
And now I leave these riddles to their Seer.

      E.A.P.

Back to Top

*****

A letter from Poe to his aunt, talking about everyday events in his life

A letter from Poe to his aunt, talking about everyday events in his life.
Image courtesy of the Enoch Pratt Free Library

  • Click the image to view the full-size document. Use your browser's Back button to return to this page.
  • Click here to read a transcript of this letter.

In this letter, Poe writes to Maria Clemm, his aunt, about his trip to New York with his wife, Virginia. Virginia is Maria's daughter. Virginia had been ill, and Poe takes great pains to reassure his aunt that she is feeling better. In the letter, Poe tells his aunt that Sissy (Virginia) misses Catterina, the couple's cat.



Transcription:

New-York, Sunday Morning
April 7. just after breakfast. [1844]

My dear Muddy,

We have just this minute done breakfast, and
I now sit down to write you about everything. I can't pay for the
letter, because the P.O. won't be open to-day,— In the first place, we
arrived safe at Walnut St wharf. The driver wanted to make me pay
a dollar, but I wouldn't. Then I had to pay a boy a levy to put the
trunks in the baggage car. In the meantime I took Sis in the Depot
Hotel. It was only a quarter past 6, and we had to wait till 7, We
saw the Ledger & Times — nothing in either — a few words of no account
in the Chronicle. — We started in good spirits, but did not get here
until nearly 3 o'clock. We went in the cars to Amboy about 40 miles
from N. York, and then took the steamboat the rest of the way.—
Sissy coughed none at all. When we got to the wharf it was raining
hard. I left her on board the boat, after putting the trunks in the
Ladies' Cabin, and set off to buy an umbrella and look for a
boarding-house. I met a man selling umbrellas and bought [o]ne for
62 cents. Then I went up Greenwich St. and soon found a boarding-
house. It is just before you get to Cedar St, on the West side going up
— the left hand side. It has brown stone steps, with a porch with
brown pillars. "Morrison" is the name on, the door. I made a bar-
gain in a few minutes and then got a hack and went for Sis.
I was not gone more than 1/2 an hour, and she was quite aston-
ished to see me back so soon. She didn't expect me for an hour.
There were 2 other ladies waiting on board — so she wasn't very
lonely. — When we got to the house we had to wait about 1/2 an
hour before the room was ready. The house is old & looks buggy,
b[-----T]he landlady is a nice chatty
ol[d soul---g]ave us the back room on
th[e third floor- -]e night & day & attendance,
f [---the cheapest board I] ever knew, taking into consideration
the central situation and the living. I wish Kate could see it — she
would faint. Last night, for supper, we had the nicest tea you ever
drank, strong & hot — wheat bread & rye bread — cheese — tea-cakes (elegant)

-Page 2-

a great dish (2 dishes) of elegant ham, and 2 of cold veal, piled up
like a mountain and large slices — 3 dishes of the cakes, and every
thing in the greatest profusion. No fear of starving here. The landlady
seemed as if she couldn't press us enough, and we were at home
directly. Her husband is living with her — a fat good-natured old soul.
There are 8 or 10 boarders — 2 or 3 of them ladies — 2 servants.—
For breakfast we had excellent-flavored coffe, hot & strong — not very
clear & no great deal of cream — veal cutlets, elegant ham & eggs &
nice bread and butter. I never sat down to a more plentiful or a
nicer breakfast. I wish you could have seen the eggs — and the great
dishes of meat. I ate the first hearty breakfast I have eaten since
I left our little home. Sis is delighted, and we are both in excel-
Lent spirits. She has coughed hardly any and had no night sweat.
She is now busy mending my pants which I tore against a nail.
I went out last night and bought a skein of silk, a skein of thread,
2 buttons a pair of slippers & a tin pan for the stove. The fire kept in all
night.—We have now got 4$ and a half left. Tomorrow I
am going to try & borrow 3$ — so that I may have a fortnight to
go upon. I feel in excellent spirits & haven't drank a drop — so that
I hope so [-on] to get out of trouble. The very instant I scrape together
enough money I will send it on. You can't imagine how much we
both do miss you. Sissy had a hearty cry last night, because you
and Catterina weren't here. We are resolved to get 2 rooms the
first moment we can. In the meantime it is impossible we could
be more comfortable or more at home than we are.—It looks
as if it was going to clear up now.—Be sure and go to the
P.O. & have my letters forwarded. As soon as I write Lowell's
article, I will send it to you, & get you to get the money from
Graham. Give our best loves to Catterina


Be sure & take home the Messenger, [------]
We hope to send for you very soon.

Back to Top

*****

A letter from Poe to his friend and benefactor John P. Kennedy

A letter from Poe to his friend and benefactor John P. KennedyA letter from Poe to his friend and benefactor John P. Kennedy
Images courtesy of University of Virginia Library Special Collections.

  • Click the image to view the full-size document. Use your browser's Back button to return to this page.
  • Click here to read a transcript of this letter.

In this letter, Poe writes about his poverty, and asks Kennedy to encourage people holding a Poe manuscript to send him payment.



Transcription (courtesy of the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore)

Balto: Nov. 1834.

Dr Sir,

I have a favour to beg of you which I thought it better to ask in writing, because, sincerely, I had not courage to ask it in person. I am indeed too well aware that I have no claim whatever to your attention, and that even the manner of my introduction to your notice was, at the best, equivocal.

Since the day you first saw me my situation in life has altered materially. At that time I looked forward to the inheritance of a large fortune, and, in the meantime, was in receipt of an annuity sufficient for my support. This was allowed me by a gentleman of Virginia (Mr Jno Allan [John Allan]) who adopted me at the age of two years, (both my parents being dead) and who, until lately, always treated me with the affection of a father. But a second marriage on his part, and I dare say many follies on my own at length ended in a quarrel between us. He is now dead, and has left me nothing. I am thrown entirely upon my own resources with no profession, and very few friends. Worse than all this, I am at length penniless. Indeed no circumstances less urgent would have induced me to risk your friendship by troubling you with my distresses. But I could not help thinking that if my situation was stated — as you could state it — to Carey & Lea, they might be led to aid me with a small sum in consideration of my M.S. now in their hands. This would relieve my immediate wants, and I could then look forward more confidently to better days. At all events receive assurance of my gratitude for what you have already done.

Most respy [Most respectfully]
Yr Obt St [Your obedient servant]

Edgar Allan Poe

Back to Top

*****

General Court-Martial Orders in the case of Cadet Edgar A. Poe

General Court-Martial Orders in the case of Cadet Edgar A. Poe
General Court-Martial Orders in the case of Cadet Edgar A. PoeGeneral Court-Martial Orders in the case of Cadet Edgar A. PoeGeneral Court-Martial Orders in the case of Cadet Edgar A. Poe

Images courtesy of University of Virginia Library Special Collections.

  • Click the image to view the full-size document. Use your browser's Back button to return to this page.

This document is the official government record of Poe's dismissal from the United States Military Academy at West Point. It charges Poe with not attending class, not attending church services, and not attending required parades. Poe pled guilty to two of the charges. His dismissal was effective in March, 1831.

Back to Top

*****

A letter from Poe to his wife Virginia

A letter from Poe to his wife VirginiaA letter from Poe to his wife Virginia
Images courtesy of University of Virginia Library Special Collections.

  • Click the image to view the full-size document. Use your browser's Back button to return to this page.
  • Click here to read a transcript of this letter.

This is the only letter that survives today that Poe wrote to his young wife.



Transcription (courtesy of the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore)

June. 12th - 1846

My Dear Heart, My dear Virginia! our Mother will explain to you why I stay away from you this night. I trust the interview I am promised, will result in some substantial good for me, for your dear sake, and hers — Keep up your heart in all hopefulness, and trust yet a little longer — In my last great disappointment, I should have lost my courage but for you — my little darling wife you are my greatest and only stimulus now, to battle with this uncongenial, unsatisfactory and ungrateful life — I shall be with you tomorrow P.M. and be assured until I see you, I will keep in loving remembrance your last words and your fervant [fervent] prayer!

Sleep well and may God grant you a peaceful summer, with your devoted
Edgar

Back to Top

*****

Four stanzas of the poem "The Bells" in Poe's handwriting

Four stanzas of the poem 'The Bells' in Poe's handwritingFour stanzas of the poem 'The Bells' in Poe's handwriting

  • Click the image to view the full-size document. Use your browser's Back button to return to this page.

This version of the poem dates from 1847, just a year before Poe's death.

Be sure to check out "The Bells" — an interactive version of the poem on this site.

Back to Top



border
border