Let Me Tell You All About Mrs. Poe

by Ann Neilson

So, I’m almost certain that most of you who are reading this post know of the writer Edgar Allan Poe, and that, knowing him, you know he married his cousin. (I promise, this wasn’t weird back then.) In this blogpost, I’m going to share some photos, a poem, and other tidbits about her. She deserves more appreciation.

Virginia Clemm was born in August of 1822 to Maria Clemm. The young spritely girl married her first cousin, Edgar, when she was 13 and he 27. What amazes me about this is that she was able to pass as being “21” so they could legally marry. I’m convinced that the man who married them was on drugs. I mean, take a look at the portrait below and tell me that you think she looks 21:

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Here’s a colored version, closer up:

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Alright, perhaps she looks a bit older for her age. But it still amazes me. I digress.

Virginia was known to be a kind soul who enjoyed singing (she was a soprano). I read up that  she was seven years of age when she first met Edgar, after his discharge from the army. Poe moved in with the family in 1833, four years after the two first met, however they would not become smitten with one another until 1835. During this time, Poe was crushing on another woman, Mary Devereaux, and Virginia was their messenger. The romance with Virginia really started sparking when she was supposed to be sent off to live with their cousin Neilson, so that she may receive a good education. Emotional and flustered, Edgar wrote a rather melodramatic  heartbreaking letter pleading to not have Virginia leave him. During this time, he had moved out of the household to Richmond, Virginia, however upon hearing this planned to move back in. This would be the ultimate move to lead Poe to marry his cousin. They married May 16th, 1836, and the rest was history from there, until her death of tuberculosis in 1847, at the age of 24. (Coincidentally, Edgar Poe’s mother, brother, and foster-mother all died at the age of 24 as well.)

Now, on to some more uplifting matters.

Here’s a poem I found that she’d written for Edgar:

“Ever with thee I wish to roam —
Dearest my life is thine.
Give me a cottage for my home
And a rich old cypress vine,
Removed from the world with its sin and care
And the tattling of many tongues.
Love alone shall guide us when we are there —
Love shall heal my weakened lungs;
And Oh, the tranquil hours we’ll spend,
Never wishing that others may see!
Perfect ease we’ll enjoy, without thinking to lend
Ourselves to the world and its glee —
Ever peaceful and blissful we’ll be.”

Here’s a photocopy of the original:

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And now, I will end with a few more portraits/a photograph I had found of Virginia:

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(Here are the links citing where I got the photos and information in this blogpost:
http://www.myhero.com/go/hero.asp?hero=E_Poe_dnhs_US_2010
http://americanliteraryblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/marriage-of-edgar-poe.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Eliza_Clemm_Poe
http://poecalendar.blogspot.com/2009/08/birth-of-virginia-clemm.html
http://www.eapoe.org/papers/misc1921/deasf78a.htm
http://www.eapoe.org/papers/misc1921/deasf77a.htm
http://www.kevinalfredstrom.com/2009/10/new-and-rare-images-of-edgar-and-virginia-poe/)

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