It’s almost like a scene from one of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories –Philadelphia is trying to claim Poe’s body from Baltimore. Actually, I may have exaggerated. It’s only one person, but he makes a good case. Edward Pettit, a Poe scholar in Philadelphia, argues that Poe wrote most of his best work in Philadelphia, which was a violent place in the mid-19th century when Poe lived there. Pettit says the city’s sinister atmosphere inspired Poe’s work. This may not do much for Philadelphia’s public relations, however.
Many cities could make a claim on Poe. He was born in Boston, lived in The Bronx in New York City and died in Baltimore. He even courted a woman in Providence, Rhode Island. Poe described himself as a Virginian. He spent much time in Richmond, including his early years, and always planned to return there. Relatives wanted to bury him in Brooklyn.
January 19, 2009 will mark the bicentennial of Poe’s birth. Pettit will debate an opponent from Baltimore on January 13 in the Philadelphia Free Library over where Poe’s remains should finally be at peace, if that’s possible. Here’s a link to a story about the “controversy” in the New York Times: Baltimore Has Poe; Philadelphia Wants Him
One response to “Philadelphia and Baltimore Fight Over Edgar Allan Poe’s Body”
I go to the Poe birthday celebration in Baltimore every year. If Philly, or anywhere else, ever had a shot at moving Poe (and presumably his wife and mother-in-law buried next to him) it would have had to have been long ago. The city of Baltimore considers Poe an icon and point of pride, even if- admittedly- he did not spend a lot of time there.
In any event, I encourage you to go to his 200th birthday celebration.