“Edgar Allan Poe considered himself a Virginian. Credited with originating the modern detective story, developing Gothic horror tales, and writing the precursor to science fiction, Poe worked to elevate Southern literature. He lived in the South most of his life, died in Baltimore, and made his final home in Richmond. His family and many of his closest associates were southerners. Visit the graves of the people with whom he worked and socialized, who he loved and at times loathed and gain a fuller understanding of Poe’s life. These were individuals who supported, inspired, and challenged him, and even a few who attempted to foil his plans.”

Woman wearing a black shirt, black hair standing next to the Edgar Allan Poe statue with a brick background.
Credit Michael Cope

So reads the description of a new book by Dr. Sharon Pajka, G-’00, a professor of English in the School of Language, Education, and Culture. The book, titled The Souls Close to Edgar Allan Poe: Graves of His Family, Friends, and Foes, was published on August 21 and is available from Arcadia Publishing.

Pajka wrote, “I held a book release party at The Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia on Sunday, August 20, with entertainment including historical interpreter Debbie Phillips as Elmira Royster Shelton, Poe’s first and last fiance, along with poetry recitations by Dean Knight which were interpreted by Dr. Miako Villanueva, G-’04 & PhD ’11, director of the General Education Program.”

Group of 6 posing with the Edgar Allan Poe statue and a brick wall behind them.
Dr. Christopher Heuer, Dr. Tonya Stremlau, Dr. Sharon Pajka, Dr. Leslie Rach, Dr. Miako Villanueva, and Kai Gagnon pose with the Poe bust at the Poe Museum August 20 in Richmond, Virginia.
(Photo by Johnathan Shipley)

Continued Pajka, “Guests could take a self-guided tour of The Poe Museum and have their picture taken by photographer Michael Cope. The museum is gorgeous! The shrine and memorial garden incorporate aspects of Poe’s life and works, and were inspired by his poem ‘To One in Paradise.’ Get buried alive (sort of) by having your photo taken in a coffin (standing room only). I also shared that if black cats crossed their path, pet them! That’s Edgar and Pluto!”
Pajka, a cemetery historian, also wrote Women Writers Buried in Virginia. She volunteers as a cemetery history tour guide on weekends, and maintains a Facebook page for River City Cemetarians.

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