On this day in 1809, Edgar Poe was born in Boston, to traveling actors David Poe Jr. (a Baltimore, Maryland, native) and Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins (an emigrant from England). The “Allan” came later, after Mr. and Mrs. Poe had died and young Edgar became the foster son of John and Frances Allan.
One of the great things about Poe and his memory—aside from “The Cask of Amontillado” or the Raven Society or the awesomely creepy art his face has inspired—is that no one argues over whether he was a “true Southerner” or whether he was or was not like Stalin. (He definitely was not, according to this book, which claims a sympathy between Shostakovich and Poe: “This is the tragedy of conscience!”)
The other great thing about Poe was the so-called Poe Toaster, who visited his grave on this day every year. Apparently, he is no more:
The tributes of an anonymous man, who leaves three roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac at Poe’s original grave on the writer’s birthday, are thought to date to least the 1940s. While three impersonators appeared this time, the real “Poe Toaster” did not, [Poe House and Museum Curator Jeff] Jerome said.
IMAGE: Poe by Ryan J. Metcalf