Ghost Post 17: What Killed Edgar Allan Poe?

1848 Daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe at 39, a...

“On September 27, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe left Richmond, Virginia, on his way home to New York. No reliable evidence exists about Poe’s whereabouts until a week later on October 3, when he was found delirious on the streets of Baltimore, outside Ryan’s Tavern. A printer named Joseph W. Walker sent a letter requesting help from an acquaintance of Poe, Dr. Joseph E. Snodgrass. His letter reads:

“Dear Sir—
There is a gentleman, rather the worse for wear, at Ryan’s 4th ward polls, who goes under the cognomen of Edgar A. Poe, and who appears in great distress, & he says he is acquainted with you, and I assure you, he is in need of immediate assistance.
Yours, in haste,
Jos. W. Walker

“The death of Edgar Allan Poe on October 7, 1849, has remained mysterious: the circumstances leading up to it are uncertain and the cause of death is disputed. On October 3, Poe was found delirious on the streets of Baltimore, Maryland.

“All medical records and documents, including Poe’s death certificate, have been lost, if they ever existed. The precise cause of Poe’s death is disputed, but many theories exist. Many biographers have addressed the issue and reached different conclusions, ranging from Jeffrey Meyers’ assertion that it was hypoglycemia to John Evangelist Walsh’s conspiratorial murder plot theory. It has also been suggested that Poe’s death might have resulted from suicide related to depression. In 1848, he nearly died from an overdose of laudanum, readily available as a tranquilizer and pain killer. Though it is unclear if this was a true suicide attempt or just a miscalculation on Poe’s part, it did not lead to Poe’s death a year later.”

Death of Edgar Allan Poe, Wikipedia

How did you die, Mr. Poe?

And why hasn’t anyone written a story about it?

 

From To — — –. Ulalume: A Ballad

Then my heart it grew ashen and sober
As the leaves that were crisped and sere-
As the leaves that were withering and sere-
And I cried- ‘It was surely October
On this very night of last year
That I journeyed- I journeyed down here-
That I brought a dread burden down here-
On this night of all nights in the year,
Ah, what demon has tempted me here?
Well I know, now, this dim lake of Auber-
This misty mid region of Weir-
Well I know, now, this dank tarn of Auber,
This ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.’

—Edgar Allan Poe

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