Text: Fred B. Freeman, Jr., “Poe’s Lowell Trips,” Poe Studies, December 1971, vol. IV, no. 2, 4:23-24


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Poe’s Lowell Trips

LaGrange College

The Poe-”Annie” Richmond relationship is both interesting and puzzling. Almost as interesting is the role played by “Annie’s” younger brother Bardwell Heywood, whom the eminent Poe authority, Thomas Ollive Mabbott, mistakenly refers to as “the brother-in-law of Mrs. Annie Richmond, who saw Poe in 1848 or 1849.”(l) Actually, Bardwell Heywood was the brother of Mrs. Richmond and principal of the Franklin Grammar School, Lowell, Massachusetts.(2) Furthermore, he was instrumental in Poe’s three known visits to Lowell.

After his wife died on January 30, 1847, Poe turned again to lecturing. In July 1848, through the help of Frances Sargent Osgood, wife of S. S. Osgood the portrait painter, and her cousin by marriage, Mrs. John G. Locke, Poe arranged an engagement to lecture on “The Poets and Poetry of America” at Lowell, where he first met “Annie” Richmond. A good account of this first encounter is given by Bardwell Heywood in a letter dated October 2, 1848, to Miss Annie Sawyer, a friend from Horace Mann’s Teacher’s Institute at Lexington. He says:

I am, however, at perfect liberty to tell you much concerning Mr. Poe which I gathered from his own lips and which, I think, will interest you, as anything in regard to eminent men always is interesting. He lectured in Lowell, I think in July, upon “Poets and Poetry of America.” Twas a brilliant affair in the course of which he recited specimens of the best poetry America ever produced, paying a passing tribute to their respective authors. After the lecture he came to my sister’s (Mrs. Richmond’s) and spent the remainder of the evening and part of the next day. (3)

The important bit of information in this letter is that Poe visited the Richmond’s after the lecture and was impressed enough with “Annie” to stay on.

Heywood’s letter also establishes that “Annie” visited Mrs. Clemm, Poe’s mother-in-law, in Fordham, New York, sometime between July 1848, and October 2, 1848. At the end of this letter Heywood says:

He spoke of his wife in a most eloquent and touching manner, the tears running down his cheeks in torrents. Spoke of her as beautiful beyond description, as lovely beyond conception, and my sister who has since visited his mother in N.Y., says she (Virginia) is represented as being almost an angel on earth (Coburn, pp. 468-476).

Apparently, “Annie” Richmond went on to Fordham for the purpose of meeting Poe’s mother-in-law and possibly seeing Poe again (if he were there). Poe’s location from the time he left Lowell in July until he concluded his pleasant visit in Richmond in the middle of September can be accounted for. He left Richmond, probably on September 10 or 11, and returned to “Muddie” at Fordham, prepared for his Providence campaign (4). About the end of September, apparently, Poe appeared in Providence and presented the letter of introduction (to Helen Whitman) (Allen, p. 773). It is possible, then, if “Annie” Richmond visited Mrs. Clemm between September 11 and 30, that she and Poe met again.

The next known time that “Annie” and Poe met was in October 1848, at Lowell and Westford, Massachusetts. It is this visit to which “Annie’s” younger sister, Sarah Heywood, refers in her recollections of Poe:

My memory photographs him again sitting before an open wood fire, in the early autumn evening, gazing intently into the glowing coals, holding the hand of a dear friend—”Annie”—while for a long time no one spoke, and the only sound was the ticking of the tall old clock in the corner of the room. (I wish I could tell you what he was thinking about during that rapt silence!) (Coburn, pp. 468-476)

It was Bardwell Heywood who induced, or first invited, Poe to come to Westford and explain Eureka before the local reading circle. This is established in another letter by Heywood, dated December 24, 1848:

When I read Eureka there were many things I could not comprehend, about which there was much mystery. This I expressed to the author whom I saw in Lowell, and he promised to come to Westford, read it aloud and explain it as he read. In October he spent three days with us, during which time the reading circle met at our house. (Coburn, pp. 468-476)

It should be noted that on this visit Poe obtained a promise from “Annie” to visit him upon his death-bed.

The third and final meeting of Poe and “Annie” was from May 2 3 to June 1, 1849, as another of Bardwell Heywood’s letters, dated June 16, 1849, confirms:

Mr. Poe has just spent something more than a week with us, and so anxious was I lest I should lose the benefit of his original thoughts, which were continually dripping from his lips, that I spent almost every moment out of school in his presence. (Coburn, pp. 468-476)

Further proof that Poe made a third trip to Lowell to see “Annie” is in a parenthetical clause in his last letter to her, dated June 16, Fordham.

. . . . you asked me to write before I started for Richmond and I was to have started last Monday (the llth)—so perhaps you thought me gone, and without having written to say good-bye —but indeed, my ... Annie, I could not have done so.... The reason of the return of my draft on Graham’s Magazine (which put me to such annoyance and mortification while I was with you) was, that the articles I sent (by mail) did not come to hand (5).

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At the end of the letter Poe writes:

Remember me to your parents, Bardwell, dear Caddy, Mr. & Miss C., and Mr R.... Tell Bardwell I will send him what I promised, very soon. (Ostrom, II, 448)

What Poe promised to send Heywood is not known, but the tone and substance of the reference suggest a meaningful friendship.

Four months later, on October 7, 1849, Poe died in Baltimore; neither Heywood nor “Annie” was there.

Although no letters from “Annie” to Poe are extant, Poe’s letters to “Annie,” which date from October 1848, to June 16, 1849, reveal a sincere, passionate affection. For example, in a letter dated November 16, 1848, he says:

Ah beloved, think—think for me & for yourself—do I not love you Annie? do you not love me? Is not this all? . . . . Can you, my Annie, bear to think I am another’s? It would give me supreme—infinite bliss to hear you say that you could not bear it. (Ostrom, II, 402)

And in another dated January 11, 1849, Poe says:

. . . I am so—so happy to think that you really love me. . . . Indeed, indeed, Annie, there is nothing in this world worth living for except love. . . . (Ostrom, II, 414)

And again on January 21, 1849, he writes:

. . . . as long as you and yours love me, my true and beautiful Annie, what need I care for this cruel, unjust, calculating world? Oh, Annie, there are no human words that can express my devotion to you and yours. My love for you has given me renewed life. (Ostrom, II, 418)

Poe’s passion for “Annie” lasted the rest of his life. Indeed, in late August of 1849, Poe wrote Mrs. Clemm:

Do not tell me anything about Annie—I cannot bear to hear it now—unless you can tell me that Mr. R. is dead. (Ostrom, II, 459)

In “Annie’s” presence Poe was soothed and comforted; she brought into his last two years the only normal passion of a man for a woman which he knew after Virginia’s death. In short, of all the women in Poe’s life, “Annie” Richmond appears to have been his real love.



(1) Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U P, 1969), p. 523.

(2) See Fred B. Freeman, Jr., “The Identity of Poe’s ‘Miss B.,’ “ American Literature, 39 (1967), 389-391.

(3) F. W. Coburn, “Poe as Seen by the Brother of ‘Annie,’” New England Quarterly, 16 (1943), 468-476.

(4) Hervey Allen, Israfel (New York: George H. Doran, 1926), p. 773.

(5) John Ward Ostrom, ed., The Letters of Edgar Allan Poe (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U P, 1948), II, 446-447.


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[S:0 - PSDR, 1971]