Saturday, April 07, 2007

A Visit to the Poe Museum

We had spring break here last week. The schools let out for five days, affording us an opportunity to make a trip. Our destination was Richmond, VA, the capital city. My youngest sister resides in Bon Air, an older neighborhood, in a small brick house with a beautiful yard and a wonderful sunroom. Son enjoyed her wireless internet as well! The first day was spent at Bush Gardens, near Williamsburg, and having been tired out by all of the walking built into a "theme park" we had a much more relaxing second day, spent in and around Richmond.

Edgar Allan Poe was not born there, nor did he die there, but for many years, he called Richmond home, so it is fitting that there is a museum to his life and work. The Stone House was never home to him, but it is the oldest surviving house in Richmond, and Poe did visit there as a military cadet. The museum houses such artifacts as his walking stick (which he mistakenly left behind after a lecture in September of 1849, a few days before his death in October.) Other items of interest include the bed he slept in as a child, and of course, many first editions of his works. Daughter was especially impressed with the hand written notes and drafts of his work. "His handwriting was so neat, Mama!" she said, as we left to have some pictures made in the garden and near the bust of Poe which watches over the garden.

Most literary authorities acknowledge Poe as the inventor of the detective story, as well as the first writer to popularize the short story format. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is said to have based Sherlock Holmes on Poe's French detective, Dupin. His poems are among the finest examples of American literature, and he did write some really bizarre and macabre works which have spawned movies and imitators.

I taught Poe's works for many years, since his works are typically included in both ninth and eleventh grade lit courses in Georgia, and as I sat in on a bench in the attic of the museum, I answered a question posed by another museum visitor. Once a teacher, always a teacher, I suppose.

If you ever get to Richmond, while you are downtown, don't forget the Poe Museum.

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