Raymond Biswanger Slide Collection
Edgar Allan Poe: 1848
Sarah Helen Whitman was a poet and an avid reader of Edgar Allan Poe before their meeting in September 1848. She was probably the most intellectually sophisticated of all Poe's late-in-life poetic mistresses.
Providence, Rhode Island
Their relationship was initiated by her playfully flirtatious poem “To Edgar A. Poe, ” which she delivered to him on 14 February 1848. In turn, she was the inspiration for Poe's second “To Helen” poem, which was published in November 1848.
Poe proposed to Helen in Providence's Swan Point Cemetery, and they became engaged. However, she terminated their engagement in December 1858, partly because of her alarm at his drinking and her belief that Poe was demonstrating a romantic interest in Annie Richmond, wife of the well-to-do paper manufacturer Charles B. Richmond.
After Poe's death, she continued to defend his works and demonstrate her high regard for him.
Home of Mrs Sarah Helen Whitman, 88 Benefit Street, Providence, Rhode Island [Top two images--6 August 1954; Bottom image--22 August 1954]
View of Benefit Street, Providence, Rhode Island [22 August 1954]
Grave of Mrs Sarah Helen Whitman, North Burial Ground, Providence, Rhode Island [6 August 1954]
Providence Athenaeum at College and Benefit Streets, Providence, Rhode Island [5 August 1954]
Interior of Providence Athenaeum, College and Benefit Streets, Providence, Rhode Island [5 August 1954]
Portrait of Mrs Sarah Helen Whitman in Providence Athenaeum, College and Benefit Streets, Providence, Rhode Island [5 August 1954]