JM Beal

JM BealJM Beal started her first novel on scraps of paper while working behind a drink store counter. It all went downhill from there. Now she writes children’s books about Edgar Allan Poe stories and a wide range of books for adults.


Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan PoeWhy RavenCon?

Many cities lay claim to Edgar Allan Poe—Baltimore, Providence, Boston, Philadelphia—but Richmond is the city that he grew up in. Poe called himself a Virginian. Orphaned shortly before the age of three, Edgar was brought to Richmond to be raised by the Allan family. He grew up in Richmond, loved and lost in Richmond, wrote his only novel in Richmond, married in Richmond. Some say that he gave his final reading of “The Raven” in Richmond. If not for his untimely death, he likely would have moved back to Richmond to rekindle a romance with his teenage love.

Richmond was important to Poe. And Poe has always been important to RavenCon. One of our founder’s earliest childhood memories is hearing readings of Poe’s “The Black Cat”, “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Gold Bug” on public radio at the age of four. He was hooked immediately. When searching for a name for a Richmond-based convention, RavenCon was the obvious choice.

Now that the convention has moved to Williamsburg, we’ve lost our obvious Poe connection but not our love for Poe. Besides, sergeant-major Edgar Allan Poe was stationed at Fort Monroe, just 30 miles away from our current hotel. Surely he passed through Williamsburg frequently. We like to think he spent many a pleasant afternoon in beautiful historic Williamsburg. Just like us.

For more on Edgar Allan Poe, we recommend visiting the Poe Museum in downtown Richmond.


Chris Semtner

The curator of the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, Chris Semtner has written several books on Edgar Allan Poe and appeared on BBC 4’s Edgar Allan Poe: Love, Death, and Women and the Military Channel’s History: Facts vs. Fiction. The New York Times called his Library of Virginia exhibit, Poe: Man, Myth, or Monster, “provocative” and “a playful, robust exhibit.” Semtner’s paintings have entered numerous public collections including the Virginia Historical Society and the University of Maryland. He has exhibited paintings at Viktor Wynd Fine Art, London; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; and the Science Museum of Virginia, Richmond.