Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Edgar Allan Poe
Theories on Poe's Death
Home
Biography
Poe Timeline
Themes
Influences
Examples of Poe's Works
Literary Criticism
Style
Total Effect
Theories on Poe's Death
Poe International
Further Reading
Pictures of E.A. Poe
Bibliography
Useful Links

The following are suspected causes of Poe's death, with references to journal articles that substantiate the claims.

Beating (1857)
The United States Magazine Vol.II (1857): 268.

Epilepsy (1875)
Scribner's Monthly Vo1. 10 (1875): 691.

Dipsomania (1921)
Robertson, John W. Edgar A. Poe A Study. Brough, 1921: 134, 379.

Heart (1926)
Allan, Hervey. Israfel. Doubleday, 1926: Chapt. XXVII, 670.

Toxic Disorder (1970)
Studia Philo1ogica Vol. 16 (1970): 41-42.

Hypoglycemia (1979)
Artes Literatus (1979) Vol. 5: 7-19.

Diabetes (1977)
Sinclair, David. Edgar Allan Poe. Roman & Litt1efield, 1977: 151-152.

Alcohol Dehydrogenase (1984)
Arno Karlen. Napo1eon's Glands. Little Brown, 1984: 92.

Porphryia (1989)
JMAMA Feb. 10, 1989: 863-864.

Delerium Tremens (1992)
Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar A1lan Poe. Charles Scribner, 1992: 255.

Rabies (1996)
Maryland Medical Journal Sept. 1996: 765-769.

Heart (1997)
Scientific Sleuthing Review Summer 1997: 1-4.

Murder (1998)
Walsh, John E., Midnight Dreary. Rutgers Univ. Press, 1998: 119-120.

Epilepsy (1999)
Archives of Neurology June 1999: 646, 740.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning (1999)
Albert Donnay

 

Wikipedia offers further insight on Poe's death:

On October 3, 1849, Poe was found on the streets of Baltimore, delirious and "in great distress, and... in need of immediate assistance," according to the man who found him. He was taken to the Washington College Hospital, where he died early on the morning of October 7. Poe was never coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition, and wearing clothes that were not his own. Some sources say Poe's final words were "It's all over now; write Eddy is no more." (referring to his tombstone). Others say his last words were "Lord, help my poor soul."

The precise cause of Poe's death is disputed.

Dr. J. E. Snodgrass, an acquaintance of Poe's who was among those who saw him in his last days, was convinced that Poe's death was a result of drunkenness, and did a great deal to popularise this interpretation of the events. He was, however, a supporter of the temperance movement who found Poe a useful example in his work; later scholars have shown that his account of Poe's death distorts facts to support his theory.

Dr. John Moran, the physician who attended Poe, stated in his own 1885 account that "Edgar Allan Poe did not die under the effect of any intoxicant, nor was the smell of liquor upon his breath or person." This was, however, only one of several sometimes contradictory accounts of Poe's last days he published over the years, so his testimony cannot be considered entirely reliable.

Numerous other theories have been proposed over the years, including several forms of rare brain disease, diabetes, various types of enzyme deficiency, syphilis, the idea that Poe was shanghaied, drugged, and used as a pawn in a ballot-box-stuffing scam during the election that was held on the day he was found, and more recently, rabies [2] (http://www.umm.edu/news/releases/news-releases-17.html) (though some consider this unlikely).

In the absence of contemporary documentation (all surviving accounts are either incomplete or published years after the event; even Poe's death certificate, if one was ever made out, has been lost), it is likely that the truth of Poe's death will never be known. No other major American writer in the nineteenth century except Sidney Lanier lived a shorter life span.

Poe is now buried on the grounds of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Baltimore.

Poe's untimely death in Baltimore has made his grave site a popular tourist attraction - since 1949, the grave has been visited every year by a mystery man, known endearingly as the Poe Toaster, in the early hours of Poe's birthday, January 19th. It has been reported that a man draped in black with a silver-tipped cane, kneels at the grave for a toast of Martel cognac and leaves the half-full bottle and three red roses.

Will I ever get to see the ending to my story?