October 7, 1849 is the day Edgar Allan Poe died. He spent the last four days of his life incoherent in a Baltimore hospital, having been found insensible on October 3. A great deal has been made of the mystery of how he died. And even more rumor has been passed along as fact.


The Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia, has compiled the list of facts, as they are known, and their sources and invites students to try their hand at solving the mystery.

Poe experienced hallucinations and was “totally deranged” for ten days shortly before his arrival in Richmond [ahead of his trip to Baltimore].

You will see at once, by the handwriting of this letter, that I am better–much better in health and spirits. Oh, if you only knew how your dear letter comforted me! It acted like magic. Most of my suffering arose from that terrible idea which I could not get rid of–the idea that you were dead. For more than ten days I was totally deranged, although I was not drinking one drop; and during this interval I imagined the most horrible calamities…. All was hallucination, arising from an attack which I had never before experienced–an attack of mania-a-potu. May Heaven grant that it prove a warning to me for the rest of my days. If so, I shall not regret even the horrible unspeakable torments I have endured.

– Edgar Allan Poe, Letter to Maria Clemm, July 19, 1849

When Poe left Richmond, he took the wrong walking stick and forgot his luggage.

On this evening he 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.

– Dr. John Carter (Poe’s friend), “Edgar Poe’s Last Night in Richmond.” Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, November 1902

The cause of death and what happened in the last days of his life remain a mystery.

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