So, I kind of nerded out with the literary stuff in Philadelphia. I had no idea when we planned the trip, but Philly is kind of the English Major’s dream. There is Benjamin Franklin’s Grave, Edgar Allan Poe’s House, and the Rosenbach Museum. I’ll write about the Rosenbach Museum soon! I was ready to move in by the time we were done touring that place.
I have a bit of an author crush on Edgar Allan Poe: he’s macabre, and mysterious, and elegant, and real. He is such a fascinating subject. The writing he did was truly revolutionary for its time. Poe had a life full of tragedy that was reflected in his writing. He also spent a portion of his life serving at Fort Moultrie in Charleston which makes him all the more interesting to me. We got to visit a house that Poe, his wife (Virginia), and his mother-in-law (Maria Clemm, or Muddy) lived in for a short time. So Cool!
A Little Nerdy Background:
Poe lived in Philadelphia for six years, and they were considered the happiest six years of his life. His childhood was wrought in tragedy as his father abandoned him and his mother died. He was unofficially adopted by John and Frances Allan, both of whom were actors. He and John continually argued about money and this eventually forced Poe to enlist in the US Army. He later married his thirteen-year-old cousin, Virginia, and was able to settle down.
Virginia later died of tuberculosis again sending Poe’s life into a tragic spiral. Throughout Poe’s entire life money was a struggle. His life is entirely encased in mystery, especially his death. Poe was found on October 3, 1849 in Baltimore, wearing someone else’s clothes when he was supposed to be in New York. He was taken to the hospital and spent the next days drifting in and out of consciousness. On October 7, 1849 Poe was dead. No one knows what happened to him although there are numerous theories. While sad, it somehow seems fitting, doesn’t it?
The dilapidation of the house makes you feel like Poe could walk around the corner at any time. The walls and ceiling are rough and discolored. The basement is full of spiders, rotten wood, darkness, and musty air. It’s easy to picture Poe’s life lived simply in the house with days full of writing and nights full of meals by the fire.
Poe’s short story The Black Cat was written while living in the house and his description of the basement is uncanny when compared to the basement of this house. You can read it here, if you’re interested.
You can also find all the information you need about visiting the house here. It’s totally FREE and definitely worth a visit.
On a side note: I think I might be related to Poe. Do you see the resemblance in Poe’s aunt and mother-in-law, Muddy and my great grandfather, Richard? Sorry, Muddy!