Halloween and Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe was a famous poet and author. He was most known for his mystery novels. He was born in January of 1809 and passed away October 7, 1849. He was forty years old when he died. His grave is on the grounds of Westminster Hall, now part of the University of Maryland School of Law in Baltimore along with his mother-in-law and wife, also known as his first cousin, Virginia.

Poe's museum in Baltimore was opened in 1830. It is unknown what the actual cause of death of the author was; which has intrigued and haunted the masses almost as much as his writing has. Many people have different theories on how the famous Edgar Allan Poe died such as beating, epilepsy, dipsomania, heart, toxic disorder, diabetes, rabies, carbon monoxide poisoning and even murder.... 

E. Oakes Smith, a biographer, theorized that he had phlebitis, inflammation of the brain, or alcohol. This was one of the first speculations made in 1867, mentioned in the book, "Autobiographic Notes: Edgar Allan Poe."    Another theory of death was drubbing, or beating. It was speculated that a brain fever occurred when a ruffian had beaten Poe nonsensical until death. Eugene Didier had written in his article, "The Grave of Poe" when he was invited to join his friends for drinks, but when he became drunk and started to wander the streets, he was beaten by ruffians and robbed. Poe was left there all night and wasn't discovered until the evening of the 28th outside of a saloon in Baltimore.

Another theory of doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center think that he could have contracted rabies from one of his pets and not from alcoholism at all. Poe's medical history was analyzed by one of the University's own cardiologists. His records indicate that he was delirious and had phantasmagoria, or hallucinations, then went into a coma. He awoke from the coma, but started having lapses and eventually died the fourth day in the hospital. The cardiologist had checked all of the possible causes for dementia, like epilepsy, infections, brain disorders and trauma. Poe had ingested water, but it was very difficult for him. This could have represented him having a fear of water, or hydrophobia, which was another symptom of rabies. 

The doctor also analyzed for alcohol withdrawal, which is also a cause for delusions and trauma. Poe's history showed that he did have a history of using drugs and alcohol. The only downfall with that theory, is supposedly he hadn't taken in any alcohol for the six months prior to his death. Further, it is rare to become ill from alcohol withdrawal alone.

Edgar Allan Poe's death was one of the most confusing and speculated deaths in medical history. The University of Maryland had several discussions on how to diagnose the author's death. The doctors have tentatively agreed with rabies as the cause, but his "real" cause of death will likely be a mystery for years to come. 

Maryland Points of Interest Related to Edgar Allan Poe

  • Westminster Cemetery on the southeast corner of Fayette and Greene Streets, Baltimore MD
  • Poe's last drink or the polling place, Public House known as Gunner's Hall at 44 East Lombard Street Baltimore MD (known today as the  900 block of East Lombard Street)
  • Poe resided in what is now known as "Little Italy" in 1831 (his brother's funeral at the age of 24 took place on what is now known as Eastern Avenue)
  • Edgar Allan Poe's Home and Museum, Amity Street, Baltimore MD 

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