More than 150 years after Edgar Allan Poe’s death, the legendary American author and poet has been honored with a statue in his hometown, Boston. On Oct. 5, the life-size brass statue by artist Stefanie Rocknack was unveiled near a downtown Boston park. Poe died in Baltimore 165 years ago today.
It might seem like a tribute that should have happened years ago, but Poe had a complicated relationship with Boston. In an 1845 article, the godfather of the mystery story wrote some harsh words: “The Bostonians are very well in their way. Their hotels are bad. Their pumpkin pies are delicious. Their poetry is not so good.... But with all these good qualities the Bostonians have no soul.... The Bostonians are well-bred -- as very dull persons very generally are.”
Poe’s antipathy toward Boston is represented in the statue. Boston Globe reporter M.G. Lee notes: “The sculptor, Stephanie Rocknack, said he faces away from the Frog Pond to represent his disdain for Bostonians, as he walks toward his birthplace on Carver Street.” Poe is depicted walking with a raven (a nod to his poem “The Raven”) and a briefcase containing a human heart (a reference to his short story “The Tell-Tale Heart”)
It’s not the first statue of the macabre writer. Baltimore, a city Poe much preferred over Boston, has had a statue of the author since 1921 -- it’s currently on display at the University of Baltimore. That city’s NFL team, the Ravens, also took their name as a tribute to Poe’s most famous poem.
Poe’s death in Baltimore in 1849, at the age of 40, has still never been explained. Though many attribute his death to alcoholism, other theories have included rabies, the flu, carbon monoxide poisoning and even murder.