What is October without Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven and The Tell-Tale Heart. You know this author for his macabre works of fiction, but do you know the strange circumstances surrounding his death?
Chew on, or devour if you like, these haunting facts:
Poe’s wife, Virginia Eliza, was also his first cousin. She died at age 24, coincidentally the same age as Poe’s mother and brother when they also died. Two years after Virginia’s death, Poe planned to marry his childhood sweetheart, Elmira Shelton, but on October 7, in the month most closely associated with his grisly poems, and only ten days before his wedding, Edgar Allan Poe died—unexpectedly (of course!).
In the days before his death, Poe seemed unable to think clearly. Elmira decided he looked ill and urged him to see a doctor. The doctor told Poe to put off for a few days a scheduled trip to Philadelphia. When Poe left his doctor’s office he took the doctor’s walking stick instead of his own. Poe had been traveling doing lectures, and he couldn’t remember where he left his luggage. Weeks after his death, one of Poe’s cousin’s tracked down in Baltimore a trunk of Poe’s possessions. Another was found in Richmond.
What caused Poe’s untimely death? We don’t know for sure. One theory is that he had rabies. But the most accepted guess is this:
Four days before his death Poe was found at Ryan’s Fourth Ward Polls on the day of a municipal election. This location was associated with cooping, a form of voter fraud in which unsuspecting victims were drugged and forced to vote at one polling place after another until being left for dead. A few years after Poe’s death a rumor spread that Poe had been cooped. About a decade after Poe’s death, his friend John Ruben Thompson wrote a lecture . . . reporting that being cooped had contributed to Poe’s death. —Biography.com
Poe’s demise didn’t end the creepiness we often associate with him.
• Catterina, Edgar Allan’s beloved cat, died just after he did.
• An enemy wrote Poe’s obituary.
Rufus Wilmot Griswold wrote a lengthy obituary for his enemy that was so libelous Griswold signed it with a pseudonym. The article portrayed Poe as a mad, drunken, womanizing opium addict who based his darkest tales on personal experience.—Biography.com
• Many of Poe’s fans waited in line to snatch a snippet of the author’s hair while he lie in state, but only seven people attended his funeral.
• Edgar Allan Poe was buried in an unmarked grave. Eleven years after his death a cousin paid to have a monument made; however a train crashed into the carver’s studio destroying the monument. Years later, when Poe’s coffin was being moved to a new location, it broke open revealing what was left of his remains.
• And, finally, some think that Poe continued writing after he died.
In the 1860s, the medium Lizzie Doten published some poetry she claimed had been dictated to her by Poe’s ghost.—Biography.com
Read more about Edgar Allan Poe at
The Poe Museum. org
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