When the “Master of Mystery” himself, Edgar Allan Poe, showed up lying alone in a gutter outside of a bar in Baltimore on October 3, 1849, he was delirious, in a state of semi-consciousness, and could not relay how he had gotten there.

After spending four grueling days in the hospital with moments of mania and constantly floating in and out of consciousness, the famous poet was dead. His final words were: “Lord, help my poor soul.”

How did he end up there? And what did he die of? It’s a mystery more wild than anything Poe could’ve ever written in the pages of his chilling short stories.

Episode Contents:

Edgar Allan Poe | Poetry Foundation
Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809 in Boston, MA. After his father had abandoned his family and his mother died when he was two years old, he was sent to live with his two new guardians- his foster parents in Richmond, VA. He had some gambling issues and dropped out of the University of Virginia after only spending a year there because his foster father refused to pay his debts.
Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe - Wikipedia
A 27-year-old Poe married his 13-year-old cousin Virginia Clemm, though he claimed to never have consummated the marriage before her tragic death in 1845
The Raven - Edgar Allan Poe Painting by AM FineArtPrints
In 1845, Poe published what is considered to be his greatest masterwork: “The Raven.” Other of his famous works include The Cask of Amontillado, The Tell-Tale Heart, Annabel Lee, and The Fall of the House of Usher. His style is considered to be Gothic and Darkly Romantic with emphasis on his fascination with death. Poe is credited as inventing the “detective fiction” genre as well as pioneering the “science fiction” genre.
The Enduring Mystery of Edgar Allan Poe's Death | by Nick Kolakowski |  Medium
On a trip to N.Y.C. from Virginia, Poe stopped in Baltimore reportedly to meet up with old friends on September 28 1849. He is reported to have gone on a drinking bender. Five days later on October 3, Poe was discovered lying in a gutter in soiled clothing, delirious and unable to recall how he had turned up there.
Hospital where Poe died
Poe was taken to Washington College Hospital where he remained under the care of physician Dr. John Moran for four days. These days were filled with Poe slipping in and out of consciousness, hallucinating, and shouting out absurdities (like the name Reynolds repeatedly). On October 7, 1949 by 5:00 A.M., the famed poet was dead.
Theories Evermore Surrounding Edgar Allan Poe's Death | rdnewsnow.com
Only eight people attended Poe’s funeral. The sermon lasted only three minutes long because the reverend decided the crowd was too small to give a typical one. But that is by far the least depressing thing about his burial- check out the episode for more on this!

But what exactly killed Edgar Allan Poe?

Theory 1: Alcoholism

What is an alcoholic? How to treat alcoholism
Because he was a heavy drinker throughout his life, some have speculated that Poe likely died from an alcohol overdose; though, a modern study of his hair proved he was sober at the time of his death and his symptoms are largely inconsistent with an alcohol overdose.

Theory 2: Suicide

Clinical Depression: Symptoms and Treatment: Alone - Poem by Edgar Allan Poe
Some theorize that because of Poe’s melancholy tone of most of his work, he might’ve been suffering from a major depressive episode and could’ve taken his own life; however, recent psychological analysis of Poe’s works insist that he might have been depressed, but he didn’t mention or hint at suicide.

Theory 3: Rabies

Rabies - Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment in Children - Indian Crest Pediatrics
One of the most recent and wild theories is that Poe had been bitten by a rabid animal and died from a rabies infection. His ebbs and flows in consciousness along with his refusal to drink water are consistent with humans who have reached late stage rabies.

Theory 4: Brain Tumor

Can You Solve The Mystery Of Edgar Allan Poe's Death? | by New Visions |  OMGFacts | Medium
When Poe’s body was exhumed and transported to a new burial site, the gravediggers reported that there was something rattling around inside of his skull. Some have theorized that his could’ve been the calcified remains of a brain tumor which could’ve ultimately caused Poe’s death.

Theory 5: Beaten Up

Pin by Jeff Lafontant on The Art Department | Its a mans world, Boxing  images, Art of manliness
Another theory is that someone attacked Poe when he was inebriated. This could’ve been a fellow bar-goer, a complete stranger, someone he owed debts to (remember, he was a heavy gambler). Author John Evangelist Walsh has even made a case for why he believes that it was Poe’s last lover, Sarah Royster’s, brothers who beat him and left him for dead.

Theory 6: Cooping

Election Fraud in the 1800s Involved Kidnapping and Forced Drinking - Atlas  Obscura
The most popular theory of late- cooping was a form of electoral fraud where a politician would hire a gang of people to kidnap pedestrians, keep them in a room called “the coop”, and beat them repeatedly and force them to drink alcohol and consume drugs. This was to make them compliant and submissive so that they could show up to the polls in disguises and vote over and over again for a particular candidate. This would explain why Poe couldn’t remember what had happened to him.


Look out for a brand new bite-sized episode every other Sunday that you can enjoy on your commute to or from work or school!

AND if there’s a mystery, conspiracy, or any other topic you’d like me to cover in a future episode- check out the “SUGGEST A TOPIC” section of our website. And don’t forget to include your name so we can credit you if we choose to air your suggestion!

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