Thursday, April 18, 2013

P is for Poe's Disappearance and Please Forgive Me!

Today is "P" day, but it's also Thursday. And what does that mean? I realized that I completely failed to put links in the Wednesday post for open submissions and contests! Ack!

Forgive me? Just in case, I'll put a handful at the bottom of this post instead.

is for Poe's Disappearance.

On October 7, 1849, author Edgar Allan Poe called out "Lord, help my poor soul" before taking his last breath (or so it's claimed). That's there the only non-mystery elements of Poe's death end, and the questions begin.

You see, Edgar Allan Poe left Richmond, Virginia on September 27, arriving in Baltimore the next day. He was supposed to continue on to New York, but he never made it there. Instead, on October 3rd, he was discovered, upset and raving, on the streets of Baltimore. He was wearing clothing that didn't appear to belong to him (it didn't fit and wasn't his style), was entirely unkempt, and his money and trunk weren't with him (the trunk was found back in Richmond). Someone claimed he'd left Richmond with about $1500, though this is reported as unlikely, due to the fact that he was there collecting subscriptions to his $5 magazine, and he'd never collected anywhere near that amount before.

Edgar Allan Poe
By Oscar Halling [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It was assumed Poe was drunk, and he was taken to a hospital, where they put him in the area reserved for drunks. He went in and out of consciousness for several days, raving mindlessly, not making any sense. One night he called for "Reynolds!" over and over, though no one has ever been able to figure out who this was. It became obvious he was not inebriated when he continued in this way for four days before dying. He was never able to recount what had happened in the days he'd been missing.

The newspapers of the time claimed he died of a brain fever or congestion of the brain, which is said to be a euphemism for death by embarrassing means. It appears no death certificate or official records exist.

One theory as to what happened to him while he was missing is that he was kidnapped, drugged, and forced to vote at multiple ballot boxes in an election. This is called cooping, and was a known issue during that time period. Perhaps the drugs they used to keep him doing their bidding were just too much for his system.

Most other theories have to do with the cause of death, as no one is quite sure what he was doing, and cooping has been the primary suspicion to explain why he was missing and why he was in such a deplorable condition.

Rabies has been put forward more recently as the cause of death, and the confusion that might have caused him to be wandering around, not knowing who he was. His symptoms in the hospital resemble the symptoms of rabies. But how did a man as famous as Poe stay out of sight, as ill as he was, without anyone discovering him? And what happened to his clothing? Was he ill from rabies and someone mugged him, taking the nice, expensive clothes he was known to wear? Even the shoes he was found in were not his own.

Poe's original grave (his body is no longer there)
By KRichter (probably own picture (see original filename)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Various other illnesses have been suggested, such as cholera, syphilis, hypoglycemia, meningitis, a brain tumor, epilepsy, and plenty of others. Or did he overdose on something like laudanum? It had happened to him in 1848. Was he actually drunk? Despite people thinking he was acting drunk, there was no mention of the smell of alcohol, and at least one person made the point of saying he never smelled any liquor on him. It's been theorized that he committed suicide or was the victim of some slow murder, but that would involve some sort of poison, most likely, and nothing was found.

So what happened to Poe while he was missing? Where was he? How did he die? Where did his money go? His clothing? Was it an illness, or was he a victim?

A couple links to make up for my mistake...

Accepting Submissions:

Idyllic Books has a call out for submissions for their BladeMage Magazine. Seems to be primarily fantasy they're looking for. Paying market. Also seeking illustrations for pay.

Phantom Drift is seeking fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and art. Paying market.

New Horizon Press is seeking non-fiction. They have specific requests, so be sure to check those out.


Clean Teen Publishing is hosting a Kick Off Contest, with categories in illustration, drabble, short story, novelette, and novella. Prizes are $25 to $100. Deadline is April 30.


The National Storytelling Network is offering their Brimstone Award for Applied Storytelling, a grant of up to $5000. The preliminary application deadline is April 30.

Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Letter P courtesy of Mohamed Ibrahim,


  1. Somehow I bet the truth is a lot less poetic and romanticized than we all want it to be. Like the rabies thing. For all we know, he got bit by a squirrel he named "Reynolds."

    Also, have a fun time at the PPWC. We made a post in their honor, and if anyone asks about us, let them know we send our love and hope to see them all next year!

  2. Maybe he got rolled and bonked on the head. I wonder did he recognize anyone he knew at the end or did he die with strangers? Sad story.

  3. This is news to me, the way Poe died, and no one knows why. Now his poems kept playing in my had ;)

  4. Kidnapping people and forcing them to vote multiple times used to be a thing?? Bizarre!

  5. I love Poe's writing but I never knew about this. Interesting and trying to fill in the blanks could make a great story!

  6. I hate unsolvable mysteries! I always imagined Heaven with a library of truth. It is there we will find the answers to questions like a second shooter on the grassy knoll...and Poe.

  7. A true conspiracy theory from way back when! Very interesting...
    Visiting from A-Z

  8. Could he have simply been a victim of his own very twisted and morbid imagination? - Barbara
    Life & Faith in Caneyhead

  9. a fine mystery! Im sure some fans think he's still roaming the earth somewhere as some kind of supernatural being. :D

  10. I agree with the first commenter. His disappearance is probably a lot less 'romantic' than the speculation.
    Katie atBankerchick Scratchings

  11. I agree with Brandon and Bryan - it's probably not as bizarre as we hope.

  12. This is a fascinating account of Poe. . . Never knew the story of his final days. Thanks for all your work on the A to Z challenge!


  13. Did you see the movie with John Cusack? It was... interesting.

  14. Poor Poe, that was a nasty ending.

  15. Hmm, I don't know what happened to Poe. Something strange and creepy. Perhaps it was even an act to add that mystery to his life.

  16. I never knew this story, but it is a good story with which to end his life - mystery and grief.

  17. How sad. I never knew how he died and that is not something that I ever would have considered a possibility... though, we don't really know how. Whatever it was, I haven't the slightest clue, but I feel sympathy for him for having to go through such a thing.

  18. I had no idea how Poe died. An interesting story but I am assuming just not enough testing to figure out his aliment. And, sounds like he got robbed while being in a state of confusion while being so sick. Really, just kind of sad.
    Lucy from Lucy's Reality

  19. I'm not being much help, but I'd suggest there was a Raven involved.

    ~ Bear

  20. I wonder if he had a stroke? Rabies also seems likely. Something that happened suddenly and affected his brain.

  21. Crows! I blame them and their kin, the ravens. Stratoz goes from A to Z

  22. I never knew of the different possibilities of Poe's death. How sad.

  23. Well, it was drugs or illness. Either way, someone probably stole his clothes after he went nuts.

    #atozchallenge, Kristen's blog: