The Poe Museum, located in Richmond, Virginia, interprets the life and influence of Edgar Allan Poe for the education and enjoyment of a global audience.
Shockoe Hill Cemetary was the first municipally owned cemetery in Richmond. It was established in 1820 and since then has been expanded several times to its current expanse of 12.8 acres. There have been scores of notable burials there including over 400 War of 1812 veterans, 27 Revolutionary War veterans, and hundreds of servicemen. Chief Justice John Marshall and Richmond Governor William H. Cabell, who was governor just prior to Poe's time (1805-1808), are also interred there.
Several people near and dear to Edgar Allan Poe's heart are buried here, most notably his foster parents, Frances K. and John Allan, and the love of his life, Sarah Elmira Royster Shelton. Also buried here is one of his muses, Jane Stith Craig Standard, who inspired the poem "To Helen."
Poe's father left the family early, and after his mother, Elizabeth Poe's death in 1811, her friends Frances and John Allan took him in. Although Poe had a difficult relationship with his foster father, who did not include Poe in his will, it is known that he was close to his foster mother and called her "Ma." Women would prove to be a very important factor in Poe's life and his writing. After her death, he wrote a letter to John Allan claiming that,
"To Helen" is a great example of the importance of women in Poe's life. Jane Standard, the wife of prominent Judge Robert Standard, was the mother of one of Poe's childhood friends. There are two versions of the poem she inspired -- the original written in 1831 and a revised version that Poe penned in 1845. The poem is dedicated to the beauty and grace of a woman, and has spiritual overtones, perhaps referring to Helen of Troy. It is said that two of the most beautifully written lines Poe penned are in "To Helen."
Currently, the cemetery is managed by The Friends of Shockoe Hill Cemetery, a volunteer group that provides free guided tours, events, grave marker ceremonies and beautification of the grounds. They honor those buried there including the many notable Americans who contributed to Richmond's rich history, and take pride in educating the public.
Cover Credit: Jim McGlone via Flickr