It’s taken me over three years thus far to travel up and down the East Coast in search of the places entwined with the history of poet and writer, Edgar Allan Poe. His works have been such an inspiration to my own pen muse and he birthed my love of poetry. And since I’m OCD about everything, it makes perfect sense to divulge in every place Mr. Poe once lived, visited or has some historical tie to. Right? Right.
Edgar was born in Boston, Massachusetts to David and Elizabeth Poe. He had two siblings, older brother Henry and sister Rosalie. The children at a young age found themselves parent-less as their father abandoned them and at the age of three, Edgar’s mother, a then actress in Richmond, Virginia, died of tuberculosis. The children were then separated. Henry was sent to live with his paternal grandparents in Boston, Rosalie to the Mckenzie’s of Richmond and Edgar was adopted by John and Frances Allan, also of Richmond, Virginia.
For four months between 1828 and 1829 Edgar Allan Poe was stationed at Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia. The fort, built as a result of the British invasion during the War of 1812, was completed in 1836 and for over four hundred years served as a defensive stronghold for the Chesapeake Bay.
Poe, having enlisted himself under the name Edgar A. Perry, served as a sergeant major of artillery in the United States Army here. Not only did he give a fictitious name upon registering, he also claimed to be twenty-two even though he was only eighteen.
Even though it seemed with his ranking that he enjoyed military life, it became all too clear early on that he wasn’t suited for it. After several letters to his foster father, it seemed it wasn’t until Poe resorted to threats of misconduct that his father caved and assisted him in his release from his five year commitment with the army and was admitted to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
It is believed that during his time at Fort Monroe, Poe compiled Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems.
we grew in age-and love- together,
roaming the forest, and the wild;
My breast her shield in wintry weather
And, when the friendly sunshine smil’d,
And she would mark the opening skies,
I saw no heaven – but in her eyes.
-excerpt from Tamerlane
The connection that Poe had with Hampton wasn’t quite over though. Twenty years later on September 9, 1949 he returned to the area, to what was then the Hygeia Hotel later becoming known as the Chamberlin Hotel. A quite luxurious hotel known for the inspiration its sea views lent to writers, it is said that Poe recited his mournful ode of his lady by the sea, Annabel Lee, one of his last public readings right there on the hotel’s veranda.
Thanks so much for reading and please make sure to check out the other places I’ve visited on my quest to see all things Poe.