Virginia Eliza <I>Clemm</I> Poe


Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe Famous memorial

Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland, USA
Death 30 Jan 1847 (aged 24)
Fordham, Bronx County, New York, USA
Burial Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland, USA
Memorial ID 33076902 View Source

Literary Folk Figure. She was the first cousin and the wife of Edgar Allan Poe. Virginia, the daughter of Poe's aunt Maria ("Muddy") Poe Clemm, was raised in Baltimore under conditions of poverty and first met Poe at age seven in 1829 shortly after he left the Army; Edgar lived with the family intermittently and once even used the child as a go-between in his romantic advances to a neighbor. Just when the great writer developed a romantic interest in Virginia is uncertain but by the time he moved to Richmond in 1835 to take a job with the "Southern Literary Messenger" he was, with encouragement from her mother and despite her youth, considering marrying her. Poe wrote to his aunt offering to support the family if they would move to Richmond. A marriage license was applied for in Baltimore on September 22, 1835, though the wedding ceremony did not occur until May 16, 1836, performed by a Presbyterian minister in Richmond; Edgar was 27 while his bride was 13. The exact nature of their marriage remains clouded and while some have speculated that theirs was a big brother-little sister relationship (Poe's pet name for her was "Sissy"), most accounts describe them as a happy, devoted, couple. The family was forced to move several times due to Poe's struggle for financial success as a writer with his employment taking them to several cities including Philadelphia and Baltimore. By January 1842 Virginia was showing signs of tuberculosis that led to her progressive disability and in May of 1846 Poe moved Virginia and Muddy to their final home which still stands in Fordham, New York. Poe was chronically broke but provided as well as he could and though there were scandals involving his attention to other women none at the time doubted his devotion to Virginia. Edgar suffered a prolonged depression after Virginia's death and relapsed for a time into alcohol use, though the persistent stories of him being a habitual drunkard are exaggerated. Virginia's influence on Poe's literary output is questioned; it is speculated that poem "Ulalume" is a memorial to her and she may have been the inspiration for "Annabel Lee" (1849) or the "lost Leonore" of 1845's "The Raven", though there are certainly other candidates. The most accepted representation of Virginia occurs in the short sketch "Eleonora" (1842) which deals with a man marrying his cousin who lives with her mother.

Bio by: Bob Hufford

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 20 Jan 2009
  • Find a Grave Memorial ID: 33076902
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe (15 Aug 1822–30 Jan 1847), Find a Grave Memorial ID 33076902, citing Westminster Burial Ground, Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland, USA ; Maintained by Find a Grave .