The year is 1845 and Margaret Fuller (1810-1850), portrayed by Jessa Piaia, and Edgar A. Poe (1809-1849), portrayed by Rob Velella, are at the height of their literary careers. The pair exchange gossip, talk about Transcendentalism, and discuss their recently published works,"Woman in the 19th Century" and “The Raven,” at Concord’s Old Manse. Presented as a dramatic reading, the program is part of the Margaret Fuller Bicentennial Celebration "Conversations Series,” and is appropriate for audiences age 10-adult. Poe and Fuller will converse for about 35 minutes, with an informal Q&A and refreshments to follow. Admission is $5 per person.
The premier performance of this new dramatic piece will take place under the Manse tent overlooking the Concord River. Bring your own blanket or lawn chairs, or arrive early with your own picnic to enjoy on the lawn. Light dessert will be served following the conversation, or visitors may choose to browse our air-conditioned bookstore and save 10 - 50% off during our storewide sale in honor of this event.
Special Margaret Fuller Tours of the Manse will be offered on August 19 at 4, 5, 6 and 8 pm. Tour this 1770’s home while learning about Fuller’s visits with Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne while they lived at The Manse in the 1840’s. Admission is $8. Trustees of Reservations Members $4. Reservations suggested. Call 978.369.3909.
Historic Background and Biography - Writer, intellect, and teacher, Margaret Fuller was the first editor of The Dial, the quarterly Newsletter of the Transcendentalists. After publishing Woman in the 19th Century and Summer on the Lakes in 1844, Horace Greeley hired her as editor and literary critic of his New York Daily Tribune. In 1846, Fuller embarked to Europe as the first female foreign correspondent of a daily newspaper. En route home four years later, she perished at sea in a shipwreck off Fire Island along with her husband Giovanni Ossoli and their son Angelo. A cenotaph commemorating her accomplishments stands at Mount Auburn Cemetery.
Jessa Piaia studied performance at London’s Oval House Theatre. Her Women in History Programs depict the accomplishments, struggles, and contributions of American women (http://www.womeninhistoryprograms.com). Since 1985 she performs at educational institutions, museums, libraries, and cultural organizations throughout New England. Recipient of Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities grants, and from local arts lotteries, her many successes include "Meet Isabella Stewart Gardner: America’s First Patroness of the Arts," and "From Suffragist to Citizen: A Conversation with Susan B. Anthony & Eleanor Roosevelt."
Though known today mostly for his tales of the macabre and mystery, Edgar A. Poe was one of the most influential literary critics of his day. His editorial duties for The Southern Literary Messenger, Graham's Magazine, and the Broadway Journal brought him into contact with most of the literary figures of the period. Despite Poe’s popularity, he was never financially successful and died destitute and mysteriously in Baltimore at the age of 40.
Literary historian Rob Velella has lectured at historical sites, libraries, and colleges across the East Coast. Most recently he presented papers at the Poe Studies Association (2009) and the Hawthorne Society (2010), and served as guest curator for "Margaret Fuller: Woman of the Nineteenth Century" at Harvard's Houghton Library and as research associate for "The Raven in the Frog Pond: Edgar Allan Poe and Boston" for the Boston Public Library. As well as performing as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Nathaniel Hawthorne, Velella, also maintains the American Literary Blog www.americanliteraryblog.blogspot.com.
This event is part of the Bicentennial’s Conversations Series, supported by a grant from Mass Humanities and modeled after the “Conversations” Margaret Fuller offered for women (and later men) in Boston in the late 1830s and early 1840s. The event is co-sponsored by the Margaret Fuller Bicentennial Committee and is part of a year-long series of events celebrating Margaret Fuller’s life and work. For a complete list of the other programs, please visit: www.margaretfuller.org.