Philly, Baltimore dispute Poe's body

Sept. 7, 2008 at 12:01 AM
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BALTIMORE, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- Edgar Allan Poe may have wandered in life, but the curator of Baltimore's Poe House says his body will remain where it has been for 160 years -- in Baltimore.

Jeff Jerome is scheduled to travel to Philadelphia in January to debate Poe's proper burial place, The New York Times reports. Freelance writer Edward Pettit says Philadelphia has a superior claim because Poe wrote many of his best-known stories there.

Poe, who was 42 when he died in Baltimore in 1849, was born in Boston and spent much of his childhood in Richmond, Va., with foster parents -- although the family moved to Britain for a few years. As an adult, he served in the Army in South Carolina, published his first book as "A Bostonian," attended West Point in New York, married in Baltimore and lived in New York and Philadelphia.

Last year, Pettit, in an article in a Philadelphia weekly, urged body-snatching. Jerome says he has a cadre of Baltimoreans ready to defend Poe's grave.

"If they want a body they can have John Wilkes Booth," Jerome said, offering the Lincoln assassin, who is also buried in Baltimore.

The Jerome-Pettit debate is scheduled for Jan. 13, 2009, at the Philadelphia Free Library. That's six days before the bicentennial of Poe's birth.

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