In 1842, Edgar Allan Poe sold a long story to the Ladies’ Companion, a New York magazine. It was not the journal’s usual fare; it advertised itself as being for women of ‘exquisite refinement and taste’, and Poe’s tale was of the brutal rape and murder of a young woman. However, the editor could not resist; Poe had sold him the story on the premise that ‘The Mystery of Marie Rogêt’ was based firmly on the real and sensational case of the unsolved murder of Mary Rogers in New York the previous year. Although Poe’s story was transferred to Paris, the chief characters involved in the real case were only lightly disguised, and Poe promised a dramatic solution to the case.
Mary Rogers was born in 1820 and moved with her mother to New York in 1837. The two women settled in the house of John Anderson, and it was not long before Mary found herself working behind the cigar counter of Anderson’s Tobacco Emporium on Broadway.