What happened to the Poe Toaster?

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

It’s a mystery I think Edgar Allan Poe himself would have enjoyed. Every year on January 19 (Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday), a mysterious man comes to Poe’s grave located at the Westminster Hall and Burying Grounds of Baltimore, bringing three roses and a bottle of cognac. The visitor then drinks a toast to Poe’s memory and walks away, leaving behind the flowers and the unfinished bottle. The man has never been identified.

This Baltimore tradition has been going on annually for over 60 years, but for the last three years, the “Poe Toaster” has failed to make an appearance. According to some news reports, the Toaster may have gone to join Poe and the tradition is over.

What I find interesting is how the tradition got started in the first place. I like to imagine that Poe did something to help the Toaster’s family, rather like Edmond Dantes saving the Morrel family from ruin in The Count of Monte Cristo. Maybe they received some kind of legacy from him.

Or perhaps the Toaster’s ancestors were among the last people to see Edgar Allan Poe alive and the relatives thought they should make restitution in some way? Poe died in October of 1849 under strange circumstances. Poe was found on the streets of Baltimore in need of medical help and was taken to Washington College Hospital, but never recovered long enough to explain what happened to him.

I suppose we’ll always be wondering what happened to Poe and to the Poe Toaster. However, playing the guessing game is entertaining. 

One thing’s for sure: Poe’s true legacy is the wonderful poems and stories he left us. Poe is also known as the father of detective fiction and you could say that he influenced many of the detective books, shows and movies in existence today.

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4 Comments

Filed under Writing

4 responses to “What happened to the Poe Toaster?

  1. Fascinating story… I also didn’t know Poe died mysteriously.

  2. I read about this a while back. I think the guy must’ve died, it appears to be the only logical explanation. Still it was a nice tradition. The Poe story is a strange tale in itself and I’m looking forward to seeing The Raven as well, I’ll certainly be reviewing it for my blog.

    • I agree that it’s a strange tale! I’m looking forward to seeing The Raven too and what you say about it on your blog. I’d love to see what John Cusack does with the role of Edgar Allan Poe.

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