Text: Michael J. Deas, “Childhood Portrait before 1820,” The Portraits and Daguerreotypes of Edgar Allan Poe (1989), p. 142 (This material is protected by copyright)


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Childhood Portrait before 1820

In June 1815 the six-year-old Edgar Poe sailed in the company of his foster parents, John and Frances Allan, for the British Isles. There the family remained for the next five years, traveling through Scotland and eventually settling in London. Several months after the family’s return to the United States in mid-1820, John Allan received a letter from a Dr. N. Arnott of London — evidently a family friend. Dated May 15, 1821, the letter contains a cryptic remark that seems to concern a portrait of the young Poe: “You know that I have Master Edgar still inhabiting one of my rooms. Your not asking for him with these other things makes me hope that you do mean to come back again.”(1)

The precise meaning of Dr. Arnott’s remark is not clear, but it certainly implies that some of the Allans’ personal effects — including a picture of or by Poe — were left behind when the family finally departed London. All trace of this portrait, if indeed it was a portrait, is now lost.






[S:1 - PDEAP, 1989] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - The Portraits and Daguerreotypes of Edgar Allan Poe (M. J. Deas) (Childhood Portrait before 1820)