Take a Trip Through Edgar Allan Poe’s America

(Wikimedia Commons)

Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, and published some of his most famous works while living in the city. But Poe never felt at home in Boston—and the city, famous for authors like Emerson and Thoreau, never welcomed Poe as one of their own, either.

The feud was partly sparked by comments Poe made about the city. He noted that its residents “[had] no soul,” asserting that “Bostonians are well bred — as very dull persons very generally are.” His opinion of its authors—the famous Transcendentalists of the era—was hardly kinder; he called their work flowery and overly moralistic. “Poe died happy to not like Boston. I don’t think it was something that he was losing sleep over, that he and the city of Boston didn’t get along,” Devers says.

In recent years, however, Poe’s relationship with his birthplace has started to soften, thanks in part to Boston’s willingness to reclaim Poe as one of its own. In early October of 2014, the city erected a statue—depicting the author with a raven—near the Boston Common, two blocks from the house where Poe was born on January 19, 1809. “The Poe statue that went up was a huge part of claiming his legacy in Boston. It’s a bold statue right in the middle of a tourist spot, which not a lot of Poe statues are around the world, ” Ocker says.

Though Poe’s birth house no longer exists (the entire street was torn down and replaced with a parking lot in the late 1950s), the area is marked by a plaque—on the side of a building at the intersection of Boylston and Charles Street—which was unveiled by the city in 1989. In 2009, to mark the centennial of Poe’s birth, the city of Boston dubbed the intersection “Edgar Allan Poe Square.” 

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