Dark Passages: Who Owns Edgar Allan Poe?

Sometimes you have to go with the obvious, and since Tuesday is the 200th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s birth and the Edgar Award nominations are slated for announcement later this morning, it made sense to devote this month’s Dark Passages column to Mr. Poe and the various books and anthologies being published to commemorate the celebrated occasion:

Throughout January, the world is Edgar Allan Poe's stage, 200 years
after his birth on Jan. 19, 1809, and more than a century and a half
after his mysterious demise in a Baltimore gutter. He's credited as the
founding father of detective fiction, a master of the macabre, the
namesake inspiration for the mystery world's premier annual award, and
perhaps the first proper full-time freelance writer. This second son of
an acting couple might well feel a mix of puffed-up pride and
mystification at the celebratory atmosphere if he were alive to witness
it. He spent most of his life cobbling together a living out of the
scraps of poetic and prose publication, sporadically climbing the
mountain of literary acclaim (as with "The Raven" in 1845) only to
plunge anew into penury, a state he remained in until his death.

Poe's perilous financial state made him a man on the move, and two
centuries later his itinerant status has a number of cities fighting
for the honor to claim him as theirs and only theirs. Baltimore, by
virtue of being his burial ground, has long had the inside track; after
all, on every anniversary since 1949, a mysterious individual known as
"The Poe Toaster" has left cognac and three red roses at Poe's
graveside. But then a 2007 cover story in the Philadelphia City Paper
depicted, in tongue-in-cheek fashion, the kidnapping of Poe's corpse to
be spirited away to Philly, where Poe produced a great deal of his
literary output. "We're Taking Poe Back," the article proclaimed,
launching a long-running debate between its author, Edward Pettit, and
Poe House curator Jeff Jerome that culminated in a debate this past
at the Philadelphia Free Library…

  And as for the closing paragraph, well, that's the plan. We'll see <a href="http://www.yelp.com/biz/edgars-cafe-new-york">how crowded the place is</a> all day Tuesday&#8230;

  <strong>UPDATE</strong>: <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7833135.stm">Andrew Taylor discusses Poe's "DNA of Detection"</a> at the BBC. <a href="http://www.examiner.com/a-1798265%7EEdgar_Allen_Poe_stamp_on_sale_Friday.html">A new Poe stamp is unveiled</a> today. And the <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/15/AR2009011501301.html">Washington Post</a>, <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/travel/destinations/2009-01-15-poe-bicentennial_N.htm">USA TODAY</a>, <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123197476396583373.html">Wall Street Journal</a> and <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/bronx/2009/01/15/2009-01-15_poe_cottage_celebrations_mark_tormented_.html">NY Daily News</a> shine a light on the bicentennial.