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Edgar Allan Poe Death Public Domain
Public Domain

Edgar Allen Poe, whose works are often described as macabre, is hailed as one of America’s great writers. Further, he was one of the first to make a living as a writer and helped give steam to the mystery and detective genres. Poe’s obsession with death and all things dark and kinda spooky, and his stark literary criticisms, make him both hard to pin down and please. But, hey, he was an artist, and thus allowed to be moody, yes?

Early Life

Edgar Allan Poe was born to actress Elizabeth Arnold Poe and David Poe Jr. in Boston. He was their second child, having an older brother named Wiliam Henry Leonard Poe and a younger sister named Rosalie Poe. Off to an already horrible start as the middle child, Poe’s mother died and his father abandoned him at a young age.  He was fostered by John Allan and his family, hence the “Allan” in his name.

Poe’s Works

The Raven, The Goldbug, The Cask of Amontillado — these are just a few of his brilliant works. It’s hard to put Poe’s works into words and actually do him any form of justice. If you’re curious at all about him, honestly and truly, please read his work. Aside from his own works, he is known for his literary criticisms. He was outspoken in his dislikes for Transcendentalists (which, as someone who found them interesting, that is both amusing to hear but somewhat understandable), allegories, didactism — genres that make up heaps of literature. In addition, Poe was said to have often written in prussic acid, a toxic, colorless, and flammable compound opposed to ink. This doesn’t seem to have much meaning, but it definitely says a lot about the guy. He was a bit extreme, clearly. He was given an award by The Baltimore Sun for his word found in MS. Found in a bottle, this took his writing career to a new level entirely.

But the Thing About Poe’s Death…

Poe was found in October 1849 deliriously wandering around the Baltimore streets. He was wearing a stranger’s clothes and was unable to give an account for how he came to be doing so. Mysteriously, before he died, he called out the name “Reynolds” but couldn’t explain that either, nor could anyone near him. He died four days later at 5:00 a.m. His final words were allegedly, “Lord help my poor soul.” Any record of this, including his death certificate, have been lost.

After Poe’s death, he was buried in an unmarked grave. As the weeds were growing over it, Geroge W. Spence marked the spot with the number “80”. Quickly, Poe’s cousin Neilson purchased a marble headstone, which was destroyed in a train accident. Years passed before a Baltimore man, Goerge Childs, came to the city with donations he’d collected for Poe’s gravesite. From this, a monument was designed for the famous author by George Frederick, the architect behind Baltimore City Hall. As to be expected with Poe, there were a few snafus. The engraving states that his birthday was a day after it actually was (20th instead of 19th) and the monument was too big for the original burial site. So, they exhumed and moved Edgar Allen Poe’s body from his original grave. Poe’s final resting place is at the front corner of the cemetery, Westminster Hall.

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Continuing Poe’s mysterious life streak, someone was visiting the gravesite on Poe’s birthday, January 19th for DECADES, until 10 years ago. The visitor would come with a half-filled bottle of cognac at dawn and leave three roses.

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