Sunday, October 27, 2013

literary conspriracy theory countdown

I won't say I'm a proponent of all of the theories I will post in the days running up to Halloween but this first one has always been a mystery and a bit horrifying considering who the victim was...

So, let’s just look at the facts shall we?

On October 3, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe was wandering the streets of Baltimore delirious, he was later described as being "in great distress, and... in need of immediate assistance", according to the man who found him, Joseph W. Walker. Rushed by carriage to the Washington Medical College, he died alone that hospital on Sunday, October 7, 1849, at 5:00 in the morning.  Odd enough that Poe was in Baltimore (he was headed for Philadelphia) but the author of the macabre was never coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition or... why he was wearing clothes that were not his own? According to witnesses, Poe is said to have repeatedly called out the name "Reynolds" on the night before his death although it was not clear to whom he was referring.  Newspapers at the time reported the author's death as "congestion of the brain" or "cerebral inflammation", common euphemisms for deaths from disreputable causes such as alcoholism. Though Poe was known to drink to excess he was not a hopeless alcoholic[1], it is unlikely that his drinking him brought him to a strange city in strange clothes where he would die for unknown reasons. 

I have always thought, since I wrote a paper on Poe in high school, that there was foul play but since all medical records, including his death certificate, have been lost since that time and Poe’s death remains shrouded in mystery.
What do you think?  


  1. What a mystery! I have no idea but it does sound mighty suspicious.

  2. Didn't someone write a fictional account of what might have happened? I seem to recall reading about it...

  3. He probably stole the clothes after running around naked hyped up on drugs. I've seen this in my own hometown with a guy I worked next to at Sears. He was fifty something (this was in 1995 mind you) and always wore a suit. One day I came to work and had to assume all his duties. Come to learn he was arrested running around in traffic naked with a chain connecting his nipples hyped up on drugs.

    But in Poe's day, he probably just never got arrested and frightened people who didn't recognize him. When he started to come to and got cold, he stole someone's clothes and then wandered the street delirious shouting the name of the person that could give him his next fix.

  4. Nice header! His death seems to add to his mystique and persona. In a way, fitting to one of his stories.

  5. Oooh! I didn't know that story. How mysterious!

  6. I figured a woman was at the bottom of it all, it generally is a woman. actually maybe it was TWO women. much better if it was two and a heavy dose of opium. lucky devil.


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