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.
Be sure to visit the Poe Museum today before you miss the chance to see the Poe Museum’s strange new temporary exhibit “Hop-Frog,” which brings Poe’s classic revenge horror/comedy to life with sights and sounds provided by haunted house attraction operators Haunts of Richmond. The exhibit is included in the price of Poe Museum general admission, and this Thursday’s Unhappy Hour will be a perfect time to see it.
The exhibit’s last day will be this Saturday, September 29, and deinstallation will begin on Sunday in preparation of the Poe Museum’s next show “The Masque of the Red Death in Stained Glass.” We do not want to give away too much of what you can expect from this weird exhibit, but here is a photograph of part of the display.
The Poe Museum is pleased to announce the upcoming exhibition of new artwork inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Masque of the Red Death.” The show will open on October 7 and run through December 31. In honor of the show, the Poe Museum will host a special “Masque of the Red Death” Unhappy Hour on October 25 from 6-9 P.M. The highlight of the exhibit will be a stained glass window (pictured above) created by award-winning Wisconsin glass artist David Fode. Earlier this year, Fode displayed the piece at the American Glass Guild’s juried members’ exhibit in Pittsburg. David Fode was trained in drawing and illustration at the American Academy of Art in Chicago and began his career illustrating various periodicals in the United States and Europe. In 1999 Fode began working exclusively in stained glass, primarily in restoration and conservation. Fascinated by the idea of using light itself as a medium, Fode made a careful study of traditional means and methods used to manipulate light in painted designs. Fode currently designs and paints new stained glass for churches, businesses and private homes using the styles and traditional techniques found in the 19th century works that originally inspired him. More examples of his work can be found here.
In addition to Fode’s work, the exhibit will feature a series of lithographs (pictured above) by Indre McCraw, who works as a freelance glass painter and is based in NY. She started her stained glass training as a stained glass conservation intern at St. Ann’s for Restoration and the Arts in Brooklyn in 1993 while getting her BFA in Illustration and Art Education from Parsons School of Design (1994). She was hired as the third staff apprentice of the St. Ann’s program in 1996. She does a good deal of replication work through various studios for churches, historic places, and the Cloisters/Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as new work of her own and for others.
Complementing the new artwork by Fode and McCraw will be select pieces from the Poe Museum’s collection by Michael DeMarco, Berni Wrightson, and others.
The Poe Museum’s exhibit will build upon the museum’s tradition of bringing to Richmond the best in contemporary visual art inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Since 1922 (when the Poe Museum worked with Mt. Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borghlum in the development of a portrait bust of Poe) the Poe Museum has brought the best in contemporary art to Richmond. While visiting the Poe Museum to see “The Masque of the Red Death,” guests can also see the Poe Museum’s outstanding permanent collections and its other temporary exhibit “Picturing Poe: Portraits from the Poe Museum’s Collection” featuring portraits of Poe done by a variety of artists from 1884 to 2009.
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.
If you are a high school student who loves writing, get ready for a unique week-long residential writing experience. On June 16-22, 2013, young writers from around the country will come to Richmond to meet professional novelists, journalists, poets, and editors who will share their expertise and advice. Over the course of the week, conferees will learn and practice the craft of writing. By visiting the sites Poe knew best and by learning more about Poe’s early years, attendees will become immersed in the inspiration and experiences that shaped Edgar Allan Poe when he was a teenager. The conference director is Edgar Award-winning author Dr. Harry Lee Poe, Charles Colson Chair of Faith and Culture at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, and author of several books including Evermore: Edgar Allan Poe and the Mystery of the Universe. You can see from photos from the 2012 conference here.
Here is what a past conferee wrote us about her experience at the conference:
“ I returned from the young writers’ conference on sunday and just wanted to write and say what an amazing time i had! it was so much fun and i learned a lot. hope to see ya’ll next year. –“
Here is what the mother of one of the conferees had to say:
“Dear Mr. Poe,
Now that A____ is back home and we have had some time to talk about the trip and the Conference itself, I cannot but thank you and your staff for having provided A_____ with a wonderful educational experience. He enjoyed every activity, lecture, and workshop. We truly appreciate your generosity and the time you (and the Museum’s staff) devoted to not only discuss various interesting topics with A____, but to advise him on practical and career paths.”
Mark your calendars. The application will be online soon. For more information, please write us at [email protected]
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.
Last Sunday, the members of the Poe Museum were invited to a special Poe-themed tour of Richmond’s Shockoe Hill Cemetery led by Jeffry Burden, President of the Friends of Shockoe Hill Cemetery. In the above photo, some of the guests are visiting the grave of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall. In the below photo, Jeffry Burden shows members Union spy Elizabeth Van Lew’s monument. (Notice the guest sporting a new Poe Museum tote bag.)
In addition to the graves of Poe’s first love Jane Stanard and his foster father John Allan, Burden showed the group the lesser known graves of other Poe acquaintances. Below is a photo of the grave of John Carter, the doctor Poe visited his last night in Richmond. Poe left his walking stick at Carter’s house on East Broad Street, and it was from Carter’s heirs that the Poe Museum acquired the walking stick. According to a later account by Carter, published in November 1902 in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, “On this evening [Poe] sat for some time talking, while playing with a handsome Malacca sword-cane recently presented to me by a friend, and then, abruptly rising, said, ‘I think I will step over to Saddler’s (a popular restaurant in the neighborhood) for a few moments,’ and so left without any further word, having my cane still in his hand. From this manner of departure I inferred that he expected to return shortly, but did not see him again, and was surprised to learn next day that he had left for Baltimore by the early morning boat. I then called on Saddler, who informed me that Poe had left his house at exactly twelve that night, starting for the Baltimore boat in company with several companions whom he had met at Saddler’s, and giving as a reason therefore the lateness of the hour and the fact that the boat was to leave at four o’clock. According to Saddler he was in good spirits and sober, though it is certain that he had been drinking and that he seemed oblivious of his baggage, which had been left in his room at the Swan Tavern. These effects were after his death forwarded by one of Mrs. Mackenzie’s sons to Mrs. Clemm in New York, and through the same source I received my cane, which Poe in his absent-mindedness had taken away with him.”
The next images shows the recently damaged monument of Rev. John McCabe, a poet who contributed his work to the Southern Literary Messenger while the journal was under Poe’s editorship. In his “Chapter on Autography,” Poe wrote, “Dr. JOHN C. MCCABE, of Richmond, Virginia, has written much and generally well, in prose and poetry, for the periodicals of the day — for the ‘Southern Literary Messenger’ in especial, and other journals.” In a March 3, 1836 letter to McCabe, Poe (who has just rejected one of McCabe’s poems for publication in the Messenger) writes, “I feel exceedingly desirous that you should be even more favorably known to the public than you are at present, and that this object should be accomplished thro’ the medium of the Messenger.”
The next picture shows the unmarked grave of Eliza White, daughter of Poe’s boss and owner of the Southern Literary Messenger Thomas White. Before his marriage to Virginia Clemm, Poe is said to have been a favorite dancing partner of Miss White’s. When Poe married Virginia, Eliza White was one of the few guests invited to the small ceremony. Over a decade later, she visited Poe and his wife at their cottage in Fordham, New York.
If you did not have a chance to join us for last weekend’s tour but still would like to visit historic Shockoe Hill Cemetery, you should come to the dedication on October 7 at 1 P.M. of a plaque honoring Poe’s first and last fiancee Elmira Royster Shelton.
In one of the last letters he would ever write, Edgar Poe told his aunt, Maria Clemm, “I think [Elmira] loves me more devotedly than any one I ever knew & I cannot help loving her in return.” In the same note, he spoke of his desire to marry Elmira, the woman to whom he had been engaged twenty two years earlier and who had inspired a number of his poems written during those two decades.
“Elmira” was Sarah Elmira Royster Shelton, one of the people who had the greatest influence on Poe’s life and work. When their first engagement was broken by her father, the eighteen-year-old Poe wrote about his sense of loss in poems including “Tamerlane,” “Song,” and “To Elmira.” Even Poe’s brother, William Henry Leonard Poe, wrote a short story about the doomed romance. A few critics also believe both Poe’s poem “To One in Paradise” and his 1848 version of “To Helen” describe the garden Poe and Elmira used to hide from her disapproving parents during their courtship. Years later, after a twenty-seven-year-old Poe encountered a married Elmira Shelton at a Richmond party, he wrote “To Zante” about the experience. The poem’s refrain of “No more!” foreshadowed the famous refrain of “Nevermore,” which would be published eight years later.
At the age of forty, when Poe renewed his engagement to the widowed Shelton, he may have told her she was his “Lost Lenore,” but it is unlikely that he had actually written “The Raven” about her. He may even have told her “Annabel Lee” had been written about her for there are echoes of their first courtship in such lines as “She was a child, and I was a child…” But other women may also have claims to inspiring the poem (if it was, in fact, based on any person in particular).
The significance of “Annabel Lee” to their relationship may, however, be reflected in the account of his desire to have it published for the first time with their wedding announcement in the local papers. Since Poe died just ten days before they would have been married, the poem was instead first printed at the end of his obituary written by Rufus Griswold in the New York Daily Tribune (although Poe had actually sold it to his John Sartain’s Union Magazine). As Poe lay dying in a Baltimore hospital, he repeatedly told his physician he had a wife in Richmond to whom he needed to return. Though the marriage had not yet taken place, Poe’s “wife” might have been Elmira Shelton.
Upon hearing word of Poe’s death, Shelton wrote to Poe’s aunt Maria Clemm, that he had been “the dearest object on earth.” Shelton then wrote Poe’s attending physician John J. Moran, “Mr. Poe was more to me than any other living being” and expressing her desire to know everything about Poe’s final days.
In her remaining years, Shelton spoke little of Poe and refused to cooperate with Poe’s biographers when they requested interviews. One of Shelton’s granddaughters, who lived with her, later claimed to know nothing of Poe’s relationship with her grandmother until around 1876, probably when she read about it in one of Poe’s biographies. In an 1875 interview with Richmond sculptor and historian Edward V. Valentine, Shelton, likely embarrassed by her connection with such an infamous figure as Poe (whose first biography had portrayed him as a drunken madman in an attempt to impugn Poe’s character), went so far as to deny she had actually been engaged to Poe in 1849, but this is contradicted by one of Shelton’s own letters written to Maria Clemm on September 22, 1849 in which Shelton clearly implies she is engaged to Poe. The newspapers at the time also reported that “It was universally reported that he was engaged to be married. The lady was a widow, of wealth and beauty, who was an old flame of his, and whom he declared to be the ideal and original of his Lenore.” (John M. Daniel. Richmond Semi-Weekly Examiner. October 12, 1849). When Shelton finally granted John Moran an interview for his book A Defense of Edgar Allan Poe (1885), she verified that she had indeed been engaged to Poe. In the same book, Moran repeatedly refers to Shelton as “[Poe’s] ‘Annabel Lee,’” further spreading the rumor that Poe had written the poem about her. After Shelton’s death in 1888, her obituary in the Richmond Whig bore the headline “Poe’s First and Last Love.”
Since Shelton was so reluctant to speak about Poe, many of the facts of their relationship remain secret, and what has come to light is often a mixture of legend and truth. It is known that Shelton kept as souvenirs of the author a daguerreotype of Poe (known today as the “Traylor Daguerreotype”), a mother-of-pearl purse, a locket containing Poe’s hair, a drawing Poe made of her as a teenager, and an albumen print photograph of Poe. The latter was printed decades after Poe’s death.
When the Poe Museum opened in 1922, Shelton’s great granddaughter, Mrs. Elsie W. Pearson, was one of its founding members and later left Shelton’s daguerreotype, eyeglasses, and photograph of Poe to the museum. Other Shelton descendants, Thomas and William Cobb, also donated Shelton family items to the Poe Museum, continuing the tradition of Shelton family support of the museum. Visitors to the museum can today see some of these items on display as reminders of the role Shelton played in Poe’s life.
Given Shelton’s influence over Poe’s life and work, one might be surprised to know that she is buried in an unmarked grave next to her husband’s severely weathered and barely readable monument. This October, the Poe Museum, which was instrumental in marking the grave of Poe’s mother and in placing a plaque on the grave of Poe’s first love, Jane Stanard, will finally mark the grave of Sarah Elmira Royster Shelton in Richmond’s Shockoe Hill Cemetery. You are invited to attend the historic unveiling on Saturday, October 7, 2012 at 1 PM and to pay long overdue homage to a woman who, as the muse of a great poet, helped shape the course of world literature.
Here is the latest issue of the Poe Museum’s newsletter featuring updates on the Museum’s fall events. Summer2012newsletter5