FACT CHECK: Did Edgar Allan Poe Say, ‘I Wish I Could Write As Mysterious As A Cat’?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

The Facebook page for the University Of Warwick library shared an image that claims poet Edgar Allan Poe once stated, “I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.”

Friday's literary cat quote, courtesy of Edgar Allen Poe…#RolfSaysRelax #StudyHappy

Posted by University Of Warwick Library on Friday, June 7, 2019

Verdict: False

There is no evidence that Poe ever said or wrote this phrase.

Fact Check:

Poe was a 19th century American writer credited with inventing the detective genre. Famous for his poems and short stories, works like “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Fall of the House of Usher” continue to be widely read to this day.

Poe did love cats and occasionally wrote about them. In one essay, titled “Instinct vs. Reason – a Black Cat,” he wrote, “The writer of this article is the owner of one of the most remarkable black cats in the world – and this saying much; for it will be remembered that black cats are all of them witches.”

However, The Daily Caller News Foundation found no evidence that the quote attributed to Poe on Facebook is genuine. A search of his complete works, listed on the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore website, turned up no matches.

A series of experts also dismissed the quote as misattributed.

“I have electronic versions of pretty much everything that has been attributed to Poe, including some things which have been attributed to him erroneously, and find no record of such a phrase. I find no hits even if I correct the ungrammatical ‘mysterious’ to ‘mysteriously,'” said Jeffrey A. Savoye, the secretary and treasurer of the Poe Society, in an email to TheDCNF.

“Just reading the sentence, it does not really sound like Poe to me anyway,” he added.

The structure of the sentence also raised red flags for Amy Branam Armiento, an associate professor of English at Frostburg State University and president of the Poe Studies Association. “It’s not Poe. My first clue was that it was ungrammatical,” she said in an email.

When asked about the authenticity of the quote, Poe expert J. Gerald Kennedy responded with one word: “fake!”

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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