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October 7: Edgar Allen Poe’s Death Day

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On this day in 1849, the great macabre author Edgar Allen Poe died. Four days prior, he’d been found wandering the streets of Baltimore in a delirium. No one’s really sure what Poe died of. Some say hypoglycemia, others claim it was an intentional overdose of laudanum, some even suspect he was murdered. It’s hard to say because his medical and death records vanished shortly after his death, and one of his greatest enemies and rivals, Rufus Wilmot Griswold, somehow positioned himself as Poe’s literary executor then proceeded to do everything possible to destroy Poe’s reputation. First, he wrote a scathing eulogy that was full of lies, then continued his campaign of disinformation with the first published Poe biography. He claimed Poe was a drug addict, he was not, and that he probably drank himself to death, which is almost certainly not true. Poe did like to drink, and often, but he had a very low tolerance for alcohol. A couple of cocktails and he was under the table. He simply didn’t have the physical capacity to be a formidable drinker. Top quote: “Fill with mingled cream and amber, I will drain that glass again. Such hilarious visions clamber Through the chamber of my brain — Quaintest thoughts — queerest fancies Come to life and fade away; What care I how time advances? I am drinking ale today.”

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