The library also has Poe volumes translated into other languages.
“We have several copies of ‘Le Corbeau, the Raven: Poëme,’ translated into French by the symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé and illustrated by the modernist painter Édouard Manet,” Hibben said. “We have one copy that is signed by Mallarmé and Manet, which is pretty fantastic.”
The University archives preserve some evidence of Poe’s time at UVA, but not a lot, since he withdrew after only one year because of his financial situation, Hibben said. In addition to the library ledger, a matriculation book from 1826 documents Poe’s enrollment.
What is in his handwriting are letters he wrote trying to sell his work.
“The letters to publishers are really interesting,” Hibben said. “He writes to try to sell an article or some other piece of writing, mentioning that he is desperately in need of money.”
Some of those sales efforts were successful, and the library has a collection of magazines carrying Poe’s works. Included in that periodical collection is a copy of Godey’s Lady’s Book, one of the most widely circulated American magazines before the Civil War, which carried Poe’s “A Tale of Ragged Mountains.”
“As far as I know, ‘Tale of the Ragged Mountains’ is the only story with a Charlottesville setting,” said Poe expert Emily Ogden, a UVA associate professor of English. “And its setting is incidental. For purposes of the story, Poe needed a forest – but there’s no reason it couldn’t have been another forest. Poe was here very briefly, but I’m sure his education did have an impact on his life.”
The library also holds John Henry Ingram’s papers. Ingram was an English biographer and editor with a special interest in Poe.
“Ingram studied Poe, and there was a biography written about Poe by Rufus W. Griswold in 1850 that criticized his character and writing, and Ingram tried to counter that and rescue Poe’s reputation,” Hibben said. “He was born a generation after Poe, but Ingram was able to interview people who knew Poe and worked with him directly. There are letters and other documents from these people in his papers, and he’s an important early scholar of Poe and his papers provide a valuable resource for researchers.”
Poe still draws much interest, both within academia and in the general population. Netflix is offering “The Pale Blue Eye,” a fictional account of Poe as a detective, and the miniseries “The Fall of the House of Usher,” adapted from a Poe story.
“In addition to individual researchers, we have quite a few classes that come in” to Special Collections, Hibben said. “We have an instruction librarian who specializes in teaching with our materials because we serve several thousand students each year. So, our faculty are also really engaged with Special Collections.”
While Poe is a cornerstone of American literature, his material is hard to collect, because of his limited success within his own short lifetime.
“He was only at UVA a year and only lived until age 40,” Hibben said. “He traveled all over during his short life. He lived in Baltimore, Boston, Virginia, New York, and he lived in London as a child. He moved around quite a bit and was in the Army, so his paper trail is quite thin to begin with. Book collections and adaptions are widely available, but his personal papers and unique materials are scattered among a few institutions and private collections.
“UVA is very fortunate to be able to offer both rare books and unique manuscripts for research, learning and inspiration.”