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Katy Emck

Katy Emck has just completed a PhD on women writers in Renaissance Europe.

La Bonita Cigarera

Katy Emck, 3 October 1996

‘The death of a beautiful woman,’ Edgar Allen Poe wrote, ‘is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world.’ Mary Rogers, ‘the Beautiful Cigar Girl’ whose corpse was fished from the Hudson in New York in 1841, was the prototype for many subsequent mystery tales – not least Poe’s own story, ‘The Mysterious Death of Marie Roget’. The unsolved mystery of Mary’s death gave form and substance to the fears for unprotected women in a city full of roaming gangs of men and lone rakes, twirling their moustaches with predatory know-how as they loitered in city bars, hotels and public parks. Amy Srebnick’s book shows that Mary Rogers – her virtue, her gruesome death, her role as fallen woman – was a catalyst for the mythologisation of New York and for some of the city’s most important mid-19th-century refoms.’

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