Residence: Los Angeles, Charleston
Date of Performance/Collection: 26 February 2020
Primary Language: English
Charleston is known to be like one of the most haunted cities in America, because there have been lots of tragedies like fire, earthquake, and more crazy stuff. So there are ghost tours all around the city, and a lot of places are supposedly haunted. One spot that’s pretty famous is the Unitarian Church graveyard. People claim to have seen a young woman there at night, and that woman is supposedly the ghost of Annabel Lee. There’s an old Charleston story, like Antebellum era, where a Virginian sailor falls in love with Annabel Lee, a sweet Charleston girl, while he was stationed in this city. But her father disapproved, and while separated she died of syphilis. Where it gets interesting is that Edgar Allan Poe wrote a poem about Annabel Lee. Poe was actually enlisted in the navy and was actually stationed in Charleston, and he met his wife Virginia there. His wife also died young from tuberculosis, and people speculate how Poe wrote the poem based on the local Charleston legend and combining it with his own story. The poem is also the last thing Poe ever wrote, he died two days after finishing that poem. So when people say they see the ghost of Annabel Lee, it’s more likely that it’s actually the ghost of Virginia, because Annabel Lee was a fictional character.
My informant currently resides in Los Angeles, but was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina. Sullivan’s Island, a region in Charleston, is where the historic forts used during the colonial era. This region has rich history and lore about spirits and ghosts, and it’s also where my informant is from. Ghost stories of Charleston, from what my informant has described to me, are very common and are tossed around especially amongst younger children. While not all of the residents of Charleston may believe these stories, the city still attracts plenty of tourists enticed by these spirits.
The conversation took place at my apartment in Los Angeles, and no other person was present during our conversation. It was a comfortable setting with no notable distractions.
I found this piece particularly interesting, more so than other ghost stories, because it’s a mixture of actual folklore and literature. The myth of Annabel Lee predated Poe, but it was his poem that made this story mainstream to the rest of the world. And because his poem was so heavily based on his own life, it resulted in an interesting amalgamation of an author inserting himself into a folklore to enrich the myth even further.