Sarah Elmira Royster Shelton is the subject of this hand-colored daguerreotype portrait made in the 1850s. Shelton (née Royster) was engaged to Edgar Allan Poe on two different occasions. The first engagement was in 1826, when Poe was a seventeen-year-old student at the University of Virginia. Royster's family opposed the match, and the engagement was broken. Royster subsequently married an older and wealthier suitor, Alexander Shelton.
In September 1849, less than a month before his death, Poe became engaged again to the then-widowed Shelton. Poe died ten days before the wedding date.