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Edgar Allan is ALIVE!

Like many authors, Edgard Allan Poe is more highly regarded in death than he was in life.

An Edgar Allan Poe stamp that was issued this year by the United States Postal Service.

Events to honor the famed poet Edgar Allan Poe’s 200th birthday, celebrated January 19th, have been popping up all over the country throughout 2009. However, the 160th anniversary of his death, which occurred on October 7, 1849, has sparked even more celebrations and memorials.

Moldavia, Poe’s last home in Richmond, located at Fifth and Main Streets. John Allan bought the house in 1825, and Edgar lived there before entering the University of Virginia in 1826.

Of particular interest to Poe enthusiasts on the East Coast are the events hosted by The Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia. Curator Chris Semtner reveals that the festivities have surpassed his expectations. “There is more visitation than in previous years,” says Semtner. “About two thousand people showed up at midnight for a champagne toast to celebrate his birthday.” Currently the Library of Virginia, along with the Poe Museum, is displaying their exhibit “Poe: Man, Myth, or Monster,” which features artifacts from both private and public collections at the library through December 5th. “It’s definitely worth making a trip to Virginia to see,” says Semtner.

Poe’s mother, Elizabeth Arnold Poe, died in Richmond on December 8, 1811.

To mark his passing in October, the museum has a memorial service scheduled for October 3rd, which will included a reenactment of his final days, the details of which are taken from the writings of his doctor John J. Moran. Though perhaps a bit exaggerated, since Dr. Moran made much of his living in his final years lecturing on the last days of Poe’s life, it is the most accurate account available. Finally, on October 29th, the museum is hosting October Unhappy Hour–complete with a Victorian-style séance in the Spiritualist fashion, which had become popular at the time of Poe’s death.

A sketch depicting Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem The Raven.

On the other side of the country at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas, the exhibition “From Out That Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Edgar Allan Poe” opened September 8th and will run through January 3rd. The exhibition features manuscripts, books, art, and personal affects documenting Poe’s literary career, his troubled life, and intriguing death. The exhibit also focuses on the rise and fall of his literary reputation, and the remarkable influence he had on literary works across all genres. Additionally, the Ransom Center has put together the “Edgar Allan Poe Digital Edition,” which features many of the items currently on display as well as related archival materials in an online format.

Photography courtesy of the Poe Museum.
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