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The Scariest Monsters Are the Ones That Lurk Within Our Souls

Edgar Allan Poe? Rona Jaffe? Apocryphal?

edgarpoe01Dear Quote Investigator: The following quotation has been tweeted repeatedly, and I have seen it on Facebook and several tumblrs. The words are always ascribed to the famed poet and writer of the macabre Edgar Allan Poe:

The scariest monsters are the ones that lurk within our souls.

I have not found this expression in any stories or essays by Poe, and I am suspicious. Is this ascription accurate?

Quote Investigator: Probably not. QI has not located this saying in any works by Edgar Allan Poe.

On November 9, 2011 a person with the twitter handle @Edgar_Allan_Poe sent out the following tweet. The message was retweeted at least 522 times reflecting its popularity and its wide dissemination: 1

The scariest monsters are the ones that lurk within our souls.

Edgar Allan Poe died in 1849, and QI thinks that it is unlikely a supernatural agency has been channeling his utterances through twitter. The twitter profile of @Edgar_Allan_Poe currently states: 2

Woebegone Poet, Prickly scribbler of the Fantastic, Inebriate, Literary Critic, Editor
Currently buried in Baltimore
71,690 Followers

The saying may have originated with the tweet on November 9, 2011. This tweet was identified by correspondent Adrian Bailey.

Here are additional selected citations and commentary.

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Notes:

  1. Tweet message, Tweet handle: ‏@Edgar_Allan_Poe, Tweet name: “Edgar Allan Poe”, Time stamp: November 9, 2011 at 9:51AM, Retweets 522, Favorites: 143. (Examined April 17, 2013)
  2. Tweet profile, Tweet handle: ‏@Edgar_Allan_Poe, Tweet name: “Edgar Allan Poe”, Tweets: 2,566, Following: 1,108, Followers: 71,690. (Examined April 18, 2013)