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When Is “Too Young” Really Too Young?

Edgar Allan Poe fell in love with his 12-year-old first cousin while he was living with his paternal Aunt Maria.

Worried that Poe might want to marry Virginia, Neilson Poe - another first cousin - offered to provide Virginia with a home and an education. Instead, she married Poe when she was 13 and Poe was 27.

Poe and Virginia’s marriage bond - the equivalent of today’s marriage license - survives. It contains a misstatement. The document shows that Virginia was 21 years old at the time of her marriage.

Why do you think Maria Clemm allowed her 13-year-old daughter to marry her 27-year-old nephew?

In the 19th century, a marriage between first cousins was culturally more acceptable than it is in the 21st century. Why do you think viewpoints on that topic changed?


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