Sarah Helen Whitman as Pallas

(From Caroline Ticknor’s “Poe’s Helen” 1916)

The photo above is another unique likeness of Sarah Helen Whitman taken by her friend William Coleman, first made public in Caroline Ticknor’s 1916 biography of the poetess. The photo depicts Whitman in profile view as the Greek goddess of wisdom, Pallas Athena (the goddess featured as a bust in Poe’s “The Raven”). The photo was doctored by Whitman herself using clippings from magazines to form the helmet of Athena on her head. The exact date of the photo is unknown, but probably dates to roughly the same time as the albumen photographs taken by Coleman around 1860. This photo is in the collection of Brown University at the John Hay Library.