One unexpected find on my recent visit to Hay-on-Wye was a curious piece of memorabilia – a menu for a dinner held by ‘The Edgar Allan Poe Club’ at the Benjamin Franklin Hotel in Philadelphia on 19 January 1934. This was presumably a special, one-off event, for the date coincides with the 125th anniversary of Poe’s birth.
Reproduced on the back of the menu is Poe’s prospectus of 1840 for ‘The Penn Magazine’. There is also a list of luminaries ‘on the dais’ – in addition to a senator, a governor, a professor and various members of the Poe family, I spotted the name of Thornton Wilder.
With regard to Poe’s family, I met one of his descendants when I visited Philadelphia myself a decade or so ago. She was a mystery bookseller (the shop was called Poe’s Cousin) and she moderated a panel of which I was a member at Bouchercon. She was very pleasant and I was sorry to hear of her death a few years later.
Back to the dinner of 1934. The events of the evening included the dedication of the Poe house, and a performance of a ‘sequence’ called ‘The Raven’, with ‘Mr Eric Wilkinson at the Console’. The seven-course meal looks to have been pretty appetising, but I wonder what happened to the Edgar Allan Poe Club. Does it still exist?