In the long and fruitful afterlife of Edgar Allan Poe, the city of Boston is closer to celebrating the author as one of its own.
The Edgar Allan Poe Foundation of Boston is hoping to install a bronze statue of Poe near Boylston and Charles Streets. In August, it received a sizable grant -- $75,000 -- that brings it close to the $200,000 needed.
The sculpture is titled “Poe Returning to Boston,” which is certainly apt. Several other cities have already laid claim to Poe and his legacy.
Baltimore, where the author lived and worked from about 1833 to 1835, has its own Poe society. Poe is buried there. For more than 50 years the anonymous “Poe toaster” annually left a bottle of cognac -- sometimes partially drunk -- at the author’s graveside. For many years, Baltimore boasted the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum, which was closed in 2012 with hopes of reopening.
Poe moved from Baltimore to Richmond, Va., which has its own Poe Museum. That city is where Poe was sent to live at age 3, after his parents died. He stayed there -- unhappily -- until he left for college, and then returned around 1835 with his new bride, his young cousin (he was 27, she was 13). Richmond’s Poe Museum boasts “the world’s finest Edgar Allan Poe collection,” and holds many events celebrating him, including a memorial service each October.
When Poe’s wife was struck with tuberculosis, the couple (and his aunt/mother-in-law) left Virginia in hopes of making her well. They eventually landed in the Bronx in New York City, living in a cottage in a then-bucolic location. The Bronx Historical Society has restored the Poe cottage, which includes some of the Poes’ furniture, to its 1840s condition; it is open to visitors on weekends.
Charlottesville, Va., has installed a state historic marker to commemorate Poe’s time -- a single term -- at the University of Virginia. Although he unhappily racked up debt during his tenure there, university alumni formed the Raven Society in his honor, maintaining his room for visitors -- it’s historically accurate, except for the stuffed raven poised there.
But Poe was born in Boston, near the intersection slated for the sculpture’s installation. The row house where he was born is no longer there -- it was razed in 1959 -- so it was necessary to find a different way to point out the connection. “Not many people may know of Poe’s personal ties to Boston,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino said in an August statement, “but through Poe Returning to Boston, our city’s role as the birthplace of Edgar Allan Poe will finally be recognized and celebrated.”
The sculpture Poe Returning to Boston, by artist Stefanie Rocknak, depicts a life-sized Poe striding forward, with a raven emerging from his torso, trailing papers and a telltale heart.