“Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence– whether much that is glorious– whether all that is profound– does not spring from disease of thought– from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect.” – from Poe’s short story Eleonora
The Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond is a surprise, being somewhat Tardis-like in that it is definitely bigger on the inside! The small “Old Stone House” (The oldest house in Richmond, according to a curator) that faces the street disguises the lovely courtyard “Enchanted Garden” and three other buildings housing lots of Poe memorabilia and artifacts. I was really impressed and touched by the detailed, honest portrait of Poe the collection presents.
Visitors get to walk through Poe’s life, from early childhood, adolescence, adulthood and tragic death. Samples of his personal and professional writings, personal items, and items from his friends and relatives fill the well-arranged spaces.
One of the courtyard-access houses at the museum highlights Poe’s stories and poems as well as his love of cryptography. He famously created ciphers and claimed he could solve anything sent to him, which when the challenge was made publicly in “Alexander’s Weekly Messenger”, he did just that, solving hundreds of them over a six month period. Following that, he famously published two new ciphers of his own for readers to solve, under a pseudonym, Mr. W. B. Tyler, in the 1980’s, once it was widely known that the ciphers were Poe’s own, a prize contest was begun to solve them. One was solved in 1992, but it wasn’t until 2000 when the second was solved. Here’s one of them:
“The Cask of Amontillado” is one of my favorite Poe stories.
Edgar Allan Poe was a fascinating, groundbreaking writer, whose life was full of tragedy and imaginative triumph, ending way too soon. This museum provides a closer look into the genius and the man he really was.