Edgar Allan Poe’s house in Baltimore, Maryland has become the State’s first ever “literary landmark.” Officially, that is. Certainly it already was, and has been, a landmark, ever since the legendary writer lived there. (It does annoy me that the news site reporting on this development spelled Poe’s middle name wrong in the headline. It’s “Allan”, not “Allen”.) The announcement of this designation took place on Mr. Poe’s 211th birthday on Sunday January 19th.
For all his fame, we actually don’t know that much about Poe. Not about his personal life. We know the stuff that became part of official record, sure. He did marry his thirteen-year-old first cousin. But was that marriage ever consummated? Some historians doubt it. Oscar Wilde believed Poe was gay. What’s the truth of it? We don’t know. And that popular image of Poe as a drug-addicted, booze-sodden wretch? It was invented by his enemies after he died in a cowardly attempt to slander his name. (Ironically, and appropriately, this backfired, as the “bad press” helped create the rockstar image of Poe that guaranteed his celebrity.) We don’t even know what killed him at the far too young age of forty. Theories abound.
Happy birthday, Edgar. You were, are, and always will be The Man. We will always remember.