Don’t be an April Fool: Edgar Allan Poe and Mary Rogers
We can smash one urban legend for April Fool’s Day. Edgar Allan Poe neither knew Mary Rogers nor lived at 195 Broadway. Urban legend claims that he knew Mary Cecelia Rogers because he lived nearby and was a frequent customer. Many accounts claim that Edgar Allan Poe lived at 195 Broadway between Dey and Fulton Streets, a boarding house at the time. The former headquarters of AT&T now known as the Kalikow Building stands at this site. Actually, he lived at 195 East Broadway in what is now the East Village, formerly considered part of the Lower East Side, years after her death. Many accounts leave out the “East” from his address.
Mary Rogers was known popularly as the “Beautiful Cigar Girl” between 1838 and 1841. Mary drew the public’s attention because she worked as a shop girl, then considered an unusual position for a woman to do. Her mysterious disappearance and her even more mysterious death attracted the public’s attention.
Edgar Allan Poe’s pioneer detective C. Auguste Dupin solves the case in a Parisian setting as “The The Mystery of Marie Rogêt”, first serialized in December 1842 and January 1843. Poe suggests she died from a botched abortion, a popular rumor at the time. He lived in Philadelphia at the time he wrote the story which helped him to gain national attention. He won a $100 prize for writing the story.