Rita Hallowell was one of the founders of Waverly Academy and taught literature there for six years.
Rita was born the youngest of four children and worked in her parents' shop for most of her life.
When her family was vacationing to New York City in the summer of 1846, she witnessed Edgar Allan Poe debating with one of his critics. It changed her so much that she said she was going to stay in New York to go to New York University. Her father refused to give her the money for it, however, but she still stayed in hopes of education. She ended up going back home due to financial straits after two years, at which point her parents made her enroll in the nursing program at Washington College Hospital.
On October 3, 1849, destiny brought Poe back into her life once again, as he was brought to the hospital. He died four days later. A key was found in his pocket, and it unlocked a trunk that was thought to contain his final works. Rufus Wilmot Griswold, one of Poe's critics, demanded access to the trunk, but it turned out empty. Rita then left Baltimore again, never to return.
In 1866, she helped found Waverly Academy in New York, and while she was a very enthusiastic and involved teacher, she seemed detached outside of the classroom. At the age of 41, she died, with her death shrouded in mystery much in the same way as Poe's had been. Some suspected that a student had played a practical joke on her that ended up killing her somehow. Her black cat, Usher, disappeared on the day of her funeral, but would always apparently reappear, no matter how many years had passed, whenever something strange was going on at the school.
Rita wrote in her journal that she hid behind the founders panel on the front of Ramsey Hall that she felt as though she were a villainess for "what she had done", and that although she would never become the writer she imagined she would some day become, she found solace in Poe's writing so that she "scarcely noticed as her dreams departed". She also started the Blackwood Society, tasked with donning cloaks and chanting a riddle that would serve as a clue for someone who would some day look for what she hid.
In 2009, Corine Myers wrote a paper about Edgar Allan Poe and mentioned Rita Hallowell in it. During her research, Corine surmised that Hallowell had stolen the last works of Edgar Allan Poe in order to protect them form Griswold and hidden them in Ramsey Hall. She, with Nancy following right behind her, eventually finds them, and they are made known to the public.