|The "Old Stone House", home of the Poe Museum, is the oldest building in Richmond. While Poe is not known to have spent time in this building, he surely would have been aware of its existence.|
Poe spent much of his troubled youth in Richmond. Orphaned, Poe lived with his irascible stepfather John Allan—who it seemed Poe never got along with unless John forked over some money to pay for Poe’s perpetual debts. Also while living in river city, Poe became so distraught over the death of his friend’s mother that he took on an upstream “six-mile swim [in the] James River.” Some scholars believe that Poe was actually attempting to commit suicide by swimming against the James’ rapid current.
The master of horror fiction returned to Richmond many times as he traveled up and down the Eastern seaboard. It was in Richmond where Poe gained his first real literary job, as an editor at the Southern Literary Messenger. His job included writing, choosing stories, critiquing, and editing the prose of mid-19th century writers. Richmond was also the place where Poe met his first true love, Elmira Royster Shelton, though her father made Poe discontinue their engagement because he despised Poe’s devilish ways. Right before Poe’s death in 1849, Elmira and Poe rekindled their love—though it was alleged that her children also disapproved of the eccentric writer, and preferred if their mother kept her distance from him.
Thanks to guest blogger Gavin, Belmont Library