As we approach the anniversary of Poe’s death (October 7) we are no closer to determining the precise cause of his mysterious demise. Fortunately, junior high students from around the country have stepped forward to provide their theories about Poe’s death. Below are some of the recent submissions. Click here if you would like to study the clues and offer your own theory. To see some of the earlier submissions, click here.
My theory is that Edgar Allen Poe died of bieng drugged. See, he was sick before he went to that little restaurant called ‘Saddler’s’ and I suppose it was just a little fever. I think someone must have recognized him at the restuarant and drugged his meal. Surely, they must have been a tad bit jealous and just drugged him.
my theory is that when mr,poe was danosed with the tumor is whas all ready killing him, it was then when he contracted cholera that he body started working overtime to fight both the tumor and the sickness. cholera . the infection in his intestant caused him to vomit and have watery diarrhea which both led to dihidration followed by hullucinations. that he had. , fighting both tumor sickness and the infectio was causing a major probem to his body and not to menntion he proble drinking., he was basically commiting suicide withiut knowing t. hence why o body know why he died.
My theory starts out with him not having a regular heart bet. When someone has an irregular heart thing would be different for them in their body with out even knowing about it. In some cases with the heart when it is like this alchol will make it worse. So as he drank his heart got worse. If your heart is messed up and you don’t know about it then it can do damage to other parts of your body because that is where blood gets pumped through to get to the rest or the body. When blood dose not get to where it needs to be it can cause a toumer. In most cases a tuoumer will form in the brian. So it is possible for Edgar Allen Poe to have a brain toumer.
As far as the brain when it gets defected in some way it will try to heal its self. In the prossecs of that it may happen but it may just make it worse then it already is and the brain will slowly start to die and the person thinking nothing has changed will go one with their daily life. The problem with this is that everything will be the same to them like they have been doing it forever but in reality everything the person is doing is starnge. Some examples of this is a person could get rapped heart bets along with cold sweet and be very on edge. Another thing that could happen is that the person will start to forget the simplest things and not notice them when they normaly would. Something eles that could happen is the brain will start to play trick on the person like seeing and hearing things; basically hillunotions.
As the brain does this the body its self will stop working and the person could be easily talked into doing anything such as drinking. It would be very easy to talk some one like this into drinking if they already drink. Once the person is drunk they can get them to do any thing. In this case it was election day and people were heired to kidnapp people and take them to different places and make them vote for the same person over and over again so that person would have a better change of winning. When they tokk this person to all the voting places they could go to they would just leave that person some where till someone eles found them.
In which how Edgar Allen Poe’s heart was messed up already it was to much for his body to handle and he had to get sent to the hospital. While he was in there he’s brain kept him alive as long as it could till it fainly quit worked and the person died. This is my theroy.
Ithink he died from his very sick diesase and had a brain tumor.
I think he died beacause of his brain tunmor.I think his brain had got off track and his heart started beating to fast.
He died from drinking at a bar room, he was drunk
I think he died from overdose of his medication because he was depressed that his wife died. So he wanted to blank it out and forget bout her death.
I think Poe died from old age and too much stress.
I think he died of depression from his family and wife dieing and to much stress
I think he died from his addiction because it said he could not consume achohol without producing insanity
my theory was that through his years of tourture and neglect before he was famous affected him mentaly to the point that he would write scary stories that expressed his inner torment so that the world would know exactly what he was feeling inside. when he died he was probably feeling so much inside that he died due to a mental shutdown of his important vessels and nerves in his brain.althogh this has not been proven this is my theory and i stand by it 100%.
Killeen , Texas
He was beaten & then used to place votes.
Poe was murdered by a literary rival.
He might’ve died of head trauma.
He had cholera, and died.
Poe must’ve had brain cancer. Since it wasn’t treated quickly, or they didn’t have equipment to abolish cancer, the tumor grew, and eventually, he died.
San Fransisco, California
Edgar Allan Poe may of been murdered by one of his family members.
i think poe was deppressed about losing his wife to the samething he lost his mother and brother to. i think losing his wife brought up some unwanted memories so his body started shuting down and slowly stopped working till he died
He died of a brain tumor
i think that poe had manic depression along with an irreguler heart beat and possibly alergic to some of the chemicals in alchol (since it does contain many toxins i am not shure witch one) and he died during a fit of depression after drinking he just simply gave up
or the depresent that is alchol threw off his hesrt so much in that one instant that his heartbeat was even more irreguler.
That Poe died from all the medicine the docters were giving him. That he probably started out with a really bad cold or flu and then when he went to the docter they said it was something else, and they gave him medicine and the medicine just kept making it worse! So eventually after all the medicine and procedures he died.
Poe’s immune system was faulty from the extreme amounts of liquor he consumed daily. With the over-bearing thoughts of depression,he was pushed into mania, causing his hallucinations in his death bed. I would assume Poe was not a careful person nor fearful of strangers. Drinking before leaving Richmond with strangers at the height and end of his career, he was sure death was calling. “Rynolds” a fan, loved the idea of having Poe over to his home. Poe had the strange idea of wanting to be unknown and traded clothes with the stranger before taking off into the night. Poe in a drunken stupor fell and knocked himself unconscious. his body weary, his liver spotted, and his mind injured, he\’s taken to the hospital with death ringing his ear.
I think that since Virgina Clemm dies at only 24 years old, he probably abused her to the point of death. A close family member or friend of Virgina who knows about the abuse could have hired someone that was with Poe on his trip to poison him.
Melrose , Illnoise
They are many clues that he may died of depression. From having his true love die and being a lonely orphan.
Port Charlotte, Florida
Edgar Allan Poe’s death is caused by alcohol and beating. After his wife’s death in 1847, Poe became depressed and drank large amounts of alcohol. This led him to insanity. When seeing him drunk men began to beat him. The beatings and the alcohol only made is pre-existing condition even worse. Thus leading to his death.
Port Charlotte, Florida
He was Murdered.
I belive that he had a blood clot in the vessel going in to his heart wtich made his heart beat slower witch made it harder for the blood to get to other parts of his body . so he might have ben doing an exersize or running that his body wasnt use to so his heart beat faster and its not use to that so it stoped
When he drank he probably had a panic attack because he did live in a small house so he probably developed claustrophobia wich may have caued a heart-attack which triggered his brain tumer to hurt even more, so he drank even more thinking that he would feel better but made it worse. He also may have seen some things that scared him which caused him to die.
Edgar Allan Poe boarded a ship during his strange disappearance. In a drunken stupor, he swam in and out of conciousness not knowing the difference between fantasy and reality. His nightmares became so realistic that he began to live them. After being found in the bar and being taken to the hospital, Edgar’s visions drove him mad, but not to the point of death. While on his journey, Poe made a pact with the devil that in exchange for his soul, he would be given the ability to write better than anyone in history. After falling into a deep sleep, Lucifer took Poe’s soul for his own keeping, and the doctors did not accurately assess his death and he was buried alive.
I think that someone was after his poems. Only because he made them with all his heart. And they all generate from what he knew. Poe most likely got beat to death. Also he could’ve have been making one about that person.
This is the last day of the Community Foundation’s Amazing Raise. You have until 6 P.M. today to help the Poe Museum win prizes in this exciting fundraising competition. Your donation of $50 could win us thousands in prizes.
Why support the Poe Museum? For over ninety years, the Poe Museum has been inspiring audiences of all ages to love reading. As Virginia’s only literary museum, the Poe Museum is an invaluable resource to both teachers and students. Your donation today helps the Poe Museum continue to provide services like guided tours, exhibits, off-site programs, a young writers’ conference, and more to a global audience.
Please consider making a contribution to the Poe Museum today using this form.
Do you love literature and want to instill a love of reading and writing in future generations? Here’s something you can do today to help the Poe Museum cultivate that love of the written word for years to come: From 6 A.M. on September 19 until 6 P.M. on September 20, the Poe Museum is participating in the Amazing Raise, a great fundraising opportunity and competition for non-profits in the Greater Richmond area. Each organization in the Amazing Raise competes to get the most donors to contribute to their organization during the 36-hour period. In addition to receiving these donations, each organization also competes for prizes offered by the Community Foundation of Greater Richmond. These prizes include bonuses for the highest number of donations, the organization with the first 50 unique donations, the organization which gets the donation closest to sunset, and the longest distance donation. The donation form is located below, and you can also find it on the Community Foundation’s website.
Why help the Poe Museum?
Especially in today’s very competitive academic and professional environments, excellent written and oral communication skills are a necessity, but many students have difficulty in these disciplines because they lack interest in reading comprehension and writing. Many teachers tell us they struggle to convince their students to read—until they study Poe. Very often, Poe’s works are the first that students actually enjoy reading. As such, his works provide the perfect opportunity for educators to inspire a life-long love of reading in their students. Regrettably, these same educators have little time to focus on researching any individual author while trying to cover as many writers as possible in an effort to meet the requirements of standardized tests. That is where the Poe Museum can help. By providing guided tours, teleconference programs, off-site educational programs, educator information packets, educator workshops, and a website full of accurate information on Poe’s life and work, the Edgar Allan Poe Museum has become an invaluable aid to both teachers and students. By offering a multidisciplinary approach to interpreting literature, the Poe Museum’s programs address the standards of learning in a number of different disciplines including English, History, Art, and Science. For these reasons, the Poe Museum has become a trusted resource for educators around the globe. Just last week, we hosted a guided tour for a German group and sent educator information packets to teachers in 21 different states as well as educators in the Dominican Republic and Canada. In the month ahead, we will host tours for thousands of students and travel to sites throughout Virginia and Maryland to conduct off-site programs.
As the Poe Museum enters its ninety-first year, it faces new challenges. With corporate and local government support on the decline, expenses are on the increase. Rather than pass those expenses on to the already cash-strapped schools, the Poe Museum is seeking the support of those who believe in the importance of the Poe Museum’s mission. We hope we can count on your support today. Even a small donation can make a big difference. For more information, you can view the Poe Museum’s profile here, or you can visit our website.
Students have long had a fascination with Edgar Poe. Every year the Poe Museum receives numerous calls and emails from students writing papers on their favorite author. Less frequently, the Museum hears from students working on visual art, dance, or film projects honoring Poe. Now a group of Virginia Commonwealth University students is combining dance, music, visual art, and film in a project that has already been two years in the making. At 8:30 P.M. during the September 27 Unhappy Hour, Poe Museum visitors will be the first to preview this new short film about Edgar Allan Poe by Christine Stoddard and David Fuchs, who won a VCUarts Undergraduate Research Grant in 2010 to produce the project. Entitled “The Persistence of Poe,” the twenty-two minute documentary will explore the influence Poe’s works have had on Richmond writers and artists of today.
According to the film’s official website, “The whole style of the film is done with a collage feel because Poe led such a patchwork existence. Through its use of live action, animation, writing, narration, music, dance, and theatre, the film demonstrates the range, power, and ability of interdisciplinary art. Cut-out animation is superimposed over photographs of present-day locations concerning Poe; animation sequences break up some of the live-action scenes. Interpretative readings of select Poe works that allude to or were written in Richmond break up the film’s biographical elements. Combined animation and live action recordings of dancing to his poetry accompany these readings. Coverage on how Poe still affects Richmond in the modern day would be essential, as well.”
Please join us on September 27 as we see this exciting new film and encourage these promising young filmmakers. The screening will be preceded by our regularly scheduled September Unhappy Hour featuring live music by Goldrush. Admission to the Unhappy Hour and film screening is by optional $5 donation. A cash bar will be available. Overflow parking is available one block south of the Poe Museum at the Virginia Holocaust Museum at 20th and Cary Streets.
Ancient Egypt has long been of great fascination to the world, capturing the imaginations of everyone from the Greeks who conquered Egypt in 332 BC, all the way to people of our own time. Much of the ancient civilization’s culture is preserved in the monumental temples and pyramids, the cryptic hieroglyphics, and of course in the elaborate burials and mummifications that became the hallmark of Egypt. While the interest in Ancient Egypt continues on, it was perhaps at its most fervent in the Victorian era. Discoveries such as the Rosetta Stone by the French in 1799 made it possible for scholars to finally translate the hieroglyphics that had stumped them for centuries, and created an intense interest in this formerly mysterious culture.
It was with Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt and the discovery of the Rosetta Stone that the discipline of Egyptology was born. The publication of the essay Description de l’Égypte (1809-1829) officially made the study an academic discipline. Soon, historians, archaeologists, and anthropologists alike flocked to Egypt to excavate the tombs and study what was inscribed on the walls of its temples and other landmarks. Many of these excavations yielded crypts of pharaohs richly adorned with gold, jewels, and mummies, many of which were taken back to Europe to be put on display in museums. The people of the Victorian age came in droves to see these mummies, which both delighted and terrified them. There were even mummy unwrapping parties, which guests could attend and watch as the linen wrappings were peeled back to reveal the embalmed body inside. When Poe was fourteen, there was even a mummy on public display in the Senate Chamber of the Capitol in Richmond.
An Invitation to a Mummy Unwrapping Party
Poe wrote a satirical critique of this fascination with mummies entitled “Some Words With a Mummy” (published in 1845). The story is a commentary on the treatment of the artifacts of Ancient Egypt, particularly the mummies. Once back in Europe, many mummies were damaged or destroyed in the name of science by dissections and examinations, and others were stolen from their tombs by grave robbers to be ground into a powder which was thought to have medicinal properties. Poe’s mummy, Allamistakeo, admonishes his examiners on their treatment of him, showing the author’s view on the Egypt Mania and the disrespect of the tombs that had overtaken the Victorian era.
At the same time as the publication of “Some Words With a Mummy”, the Egyptian Building was being constructed to house the Medical College of Virginia here in Richmond. Designed by architect Thomas W. Stewart, the building is in the Egyptian Revival style and brings to mind the colossal temples that dot the Nile Valley. The choice to make the building very Egyptian in appearance may coincide with the Egypt Mania of the time, or perhaps ally the medical campus with Imhotep, the Egyptian priest who is thought to have been the first physician. The building became a national landmark in 1969, and is a treasured part of the MCV campus today. It has been in continual use since 1845, and houses an auditorium and classrooms.
The MCV Egyptian Building
Dear Friends of Poe,
A couple weeks ago we convened the Poe Museum’s fifth Edgar Allan Poe Young Writers’ Conference. This year we hosted ten students from seven different states from Massachusetts to Arizona. Why did these talented high school students (pictured above) give up a week of their summer to come to the Poe Museum? They came for the same reason that hundreds of students on field trips leave the Poe Museum with books purchased from our gift shop. Teachers often tell us that Edgar Allan Poe is the first author who excites students about reading and writing. Among the students of yesterday who credited Poe with inspiring their careers are Jules Verne, Alfred Hitchcock, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Perhaps one of the students at this summers’ conference, one of the students who visited the museum on a school field trip, or even one of the hundreds of thousands of students who visit our website each month will write the next great novel or screenplay. These students are one reason I support the Poe Museum.
We have seen our numbers grow significantly in the years I have served on the board of the Poe Museum. In 2001, our annual attendance was 11,000. For the past year our attendance had grown to 18,000. In 2001 we had 46 school groups visit the museum, but this past year we had 81 groups. Since 2009 when the National Endowment for the Arts made Poe the center of a national program to stimulate reading, the Poe Museum has brought visiting exhibits and programs to schools and libraries all over the southeast.
The Poe Museum is more successful than it has ever been, yet our need for individual financial support has never been greater. Five years ago we relied on a large group of donors who gave $50, $100, $200, and $500 each year. Since the beginning of the recession, our support has fallen significantly. We do not have a large endowment, nor do we rely on government support for our operations. We depend upon a balanced mix of support from admissions fees, shops sales, corporate support, individual support, grants, and modest local government support. We depend upon all of these, and when the money is not present, we can only cut our service and cut our staff.
As we begin a new fiscal year, please join me in making a gift to the Poe Museum that will help stimulate the educational motivation of the next generation at a time when our educational institutions are in crisis and need the auxiliary help of organizations like the Poe Museum. Your donation will also help us pay other expenses associated with preserving, exhibiting, and insuring the world’s finest collection of Poe artifacts and memorabilia (not to mention the upkeep of a 260-year-old building). As the Poe Museum celebrates its ninetieth anniversary this year, we look forward to laying the foundation for the next ninety years of inspiring young minds.
Thank you in advance for your generous support. If you have not visited the Poe Museum recently, we invite you to come this summer to see our incredible new temporary exhibit featuring dozens of rarely seen Poe letters and manuscripts from seven different private and public collections.
Harry Lee Poe
From June 17 until June 23, the 2012 Edgar Allan Poe Young Writers’ Conference brought students from across the country to the Poe Museum for a week focused on the craft of writing. When not taking seminars from professional writers—including award-winning poet J. Ron Smith, editor Mary Flinn, and novelist David Lawrence—the group, which included only one Virginian, toured area Poe sites around the Commonwealth.
In the above photo, the students are visiting Fort Monroe, at which Poe was stationed from December 1828 until April 1829. It was there that Poe attained the rank of Regimental Sergeant Major.
Here the students are visiting the University of Virginia, where they will see Poe’s dorm room and some of the Poe artifacts housed in the school’s library.
In this photo, the conferees are standing atop the mountain featured in Poe’s short story “A Tale of the Ragged Mountains.”
The conference director was Edgar Award-winning author and Poe Foundation President Dr. Harry Lee Poe, who is pictured here in the Ragged Mountains.
In the foreground is the grave of Elmira Royster Shelton, Poe’s first and last fiancée. It is just one of the important graves to be found in Shockoe HIll Cemetery. Following in Poe’s footsteps, the students also visited Elmira Shelton’s house, Poe’s mother’s grave, the birthplace of Jane Stanard (inspiration for “To Helen”) and more Richmond places familiar to Poe.
The students also visited a number of other Poe sites in Richmond as well as the Library of Virginia, where they saw some rare documents with the Director of Special Collections Tom Camden.
At the end of the week, each student read the works he or she wrote during the conference. Afterwards, they enjoyed refreshments at a reception held in their honor.
We would like to thank all those who made this year’s conference a success.
If you are interested in attending the 2013 conference, please let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling us at 888-21-EAPOE. Information about next year’s conference will be posted on this website in the fall.
Hear tomorrow’s great writers read their latest work. The Poe Museum will host a public reading by the participants in this year’s Edgar Allan Poe Young Writers’ Conference on Friday, June 22 from 7 to 8:30 P.M. This year, the conference accepted nine high school students from seven different states into a week-long intensive writing program for promising young writers. During the conference, the students are challenged to produce a work that can be read at the week-end public reading. Each day of the conference, attendees will have an opportunity to learn more about American writers Edgar Allan Poe by visiting the places he lived and worked or by taking special tours of prominent collections of Poe artifacts.
Directed by Edgar™ Award-winning author and Edgar Allan Poe cousin Dr. Harry Lee Poe, this exclusive conference is now entering its fifth year and has so far attracted students from across the country to spend a week learning the craft of writing from a variety of profession writers and editors. This year’s applicants hail from Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Wisconsin, and Virginia.
Admission to the reading and reception is free. Join us in supporting tomorrow’s great writers today.
The Poe Museum celebrated its second Unhappy Hour of the season by putting the spotlight on “Berenice”, Poe’s 1835 tale of love, obsession and dentistry.
Amber Boice as Berenice and Ryan Lee as Egaeus
The evenings festivities centered around a dramatic performance of the tale produced in cooperation with Haunts of Richmond and we were honored that Jeff Jerome of the Baltimore Poe House & Museum came down to see us and even graced each performance of the story with an informative introduction.
Poe curators – Chris Semtner of the Richmond Poe Museum and Jeff Jerome of the Baltimore Poe House – posing outside the Old Stone House
Jeff Jerome getting into the spirit of the event with our “Berenice” actors
Richmond’s own Ethio-Jazz and World Groove powerhouse, Rattlemouth provided the evening’s musical accompaniment and their performance was much enjoyed by our guests.
Various shots of Rattlemouth in action
Museum docent, Jessy Mullins educated and horrified guests with a brief presentation about 19th century dental practices and folks enjoyed wandering through our exhibits and taking in the ambience of the Enchanted Garden throughout the evening (despite there being a bit of rain).
Jessy grossing people out about 19th century dentistry
Unhappy Hour atmosphere
It was a splendid evening full of bite and was enjoyed by all!
Box o’ teeth used in the performance
As always, you can see more photos from the event (or share some of your own) by paying a visit to the Poe Museum’s flickr group.
Videos will be appearing on the museum’s Youtube channel soon as well, so keep an eye out!
Thanks to all who helped to make our May Unhappy Hour such a success!
Don’t forget to mark your calendars for our NEXT Unhappy Hour, which is coming up on June 28th, 2012 and will be themed around “The Oval Portrait”. This 1842 tale by Poe inspired Oscar Wilde to write The Picture of Dorian Gray and the event should make an indelible impression on all who attend.
A 19th century sign advertising tooth extraction
Let’s face it: no one likes a trip to the dentist. The mere thought of a root canal is enough to make us cringe and that high-pitched whir of the dentist’s drill is more than enough to send a shiver up our spines. While the modern day dentist’s office may be a far cry from a walk in the park, dentistry in the Victorian era was even more cringe-worthy. While dental practices were experiencing a renaissance from the 18th century, they were still a far cry from modern dentistry. Without electricity or numbing agents like Novocain, going to the dentist was the definition of pain. The mere thought of tooth extraction was so horrifying that Poe utilized it in his lesser-known tale “Berenice.”
A Victorian foot-powered dentist's drill
The Victorian era dentist did not have an office separate from his home –his home was his office. Dentists were also extremely expensive, meaning only the affluent families could afford to pay a visit. The dentist would reuse his instruments instead of replacing them after every visit, and at the most give them a perfunctory wipe-down between appointments (this was an era before sterilization). The most infamous dentist tool, the drill, was powered manually by a foot pedal that the dentist had to pump furiously in order to generate enough power to use it. Because of this, what we know as preventative dentistry today did not exist; the one-stop cure for all dental maladies was tooth extraction.
Towards the latter half of the 19th century, dentists began using ether and chloroform to anesthetize their patients. These gases would render the patient unconscious, but only for a brief period of time. A dentist thus had to work very quickly to extract the tooth (or teeth) before the gas would wear off and the patient would wake up.
Tooth Keys: Corkscrews for tooth extraction
Because of the high number of tooth extractions happening in dentistry, dentures became a way of remedying the lack of teeth in one’s mouth. These dentures were not custom-made and often were one-size fits all, meaning that they were extremely uncomfortable to wear. While George Washington’s dentures are by far the most famous dentures in American history, they were not made of wood. Fake teeth at the time were made from ivory taken from hippopotamus teeth or elephant tusks. Or, if you had a doctor who dealt in the black market, your teeth had a much more sinister place of origin; grave robbers could be paid off to dig up corpses and remove their teeth to be used in dentures.