This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, a writer forever associated with Baltimore and not only because he happened to die here. His final resting place, outside of Westminster Hall and Burying Ground, has become a pilgrimage site for many, including the famous Poe Toaster, who leaves a half-empty bottle of cognac and 3 red roses in tribute to this author of the macabre each January 19 on his birthday.
Subject of a recent New Yorker article, Poe left remnants of his literary life in Baltimore. The Enoch Pratt Free Library has the Poe Room, with letters, portraits and books of Poe. The Sheridan Libraries here at Hopkins owns a sheet music collection of music based on Poe’s works and also has papers related to the Edgar Allan Poe Society. And of course, Hopkins’ own John Astin is one of the best, and best-known, Poe imitators around.
To learn more about Edgar Allan Poe…
Poe was born in Boston and lived much of his life in Virginia and New York, but it was in Baltimore that his literary efforts first began to be noticed. Here he won a literary contest in 1835 for his story “A manuscript found in a bottle,” and this award brought him to the attention of a patron, John Kennedy Pendleton, who helped him place other stories in various newspapers and magazines.
Poe lived in a tiny house on North Amity Street, now the Poe House and Museum. It was here that he fell in love with his young cousin, Virginia Clemm, who, at the age of 13, became his wife.
It was of course also in Baltimore that Poe mysteriously died. Many theories exist for why Poe was found, nearly unconscious and wearing a stranger’s clothes, on a Baltimore street in October of 1849. One of the most recent accounts of his death is the bestselling novel by Matthew Pearl, The Poe Shadow. We may never know what caused Poe’s death, but you can visit both the house where he wrote and the grave where he is buried.
To learn more about the Sheridan Libraries’ collections of “Poeiana”, contact the staff in the Rare Books and Manuscripts department on A level.