On this day in 1849, poet Edgar Allan Poe died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 40. Known for his mysterious and macabre tales, it seems almost fitting that his death would be just as strange.
Image: Edgar Allan Poe / U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Poe was born on January 19, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts. Death plagued much of the early years of his life. Within three years after his birth, both of his parents had died. Orphaned, he was sent to live with John and Frances Allan, a successful merchant family in Virginia. He became close with his foster mother and was devastated when she died when he was 20. Tragedy would strike yet again when his wife died in 1847 of tuberculosis.
A gifted writer, Poe is often named the inventor of detective fiction. Despite the acclaim for his work, and the success of his poem “The Raven,” Poe suffered much financial hardship throughout his life.
To this day, the circumstances leading to Poe’s death on October 7, 1949 continues to remain a mystery. Just days before, he was found delirious on the streets of Baltimore, Maryland. In great distress, Poe was never able to explain how he came to be in his condition. Theories of suicide, epilepsy, syphilis, rabies, and alcohol spread but the true cause of his death was never found.