Might Edgar Allen Poe have written his famous poem “The Raven” while visiting Saint Albans, West Virginia?
According to the late Jim Comstock, former editor of the West Virginia Hillbilly, Jim Mullooly, of Avella, Pa., once reported to the newspaper that on a visit to Georgetown, Pa., he once saw the following news item in a family scrapbook:
“Dr. William Edward McQueen, of Summersville, not only avers that Edgar Allen Poe wrote his famous poem ‘The Raven’ in West Virginia but also swears by it.
“The Nicholas County dentist declares that Poe wrote his famous lies while in an old brick house in Saint Albums in a section of the town known as Raven’s Court in honor of the masterpiece.
“The house in Raven’s Court was owned by Dr. McQueen’s mother, Mrs. Mary Ann McQueen.
“Dr. McQueen says at the time the poem was written, Poe had come there to spend a week or so with a lawyer friend who owned the house and that on a ‘midnight dreary,’ Poe got the inspiration in that house.”
Could Poe have written the poem there? No other evidence corroborates the tale, though Poe, a Virginian, certainly might have had acquaintances in the Kanawha Valley. Though born in Boston in 1809, he was orphaned at age three and went to live with family in Richmond and studied briefly at the University of Virginia. The New York Evening Mirror first published The Raven on January 29, 1845.
Poe edited a series of literary journals, including the Southern Literary Messenger, in Richmond, starting in 1835, and Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine in Philadelphia, starting in 1839. Poe died in 1849 while traveling from Richmond to Philadelphia.