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5 Fascinating Facts about Edgar Allan Poe

Eva Niessner

5 Fascinating Facts about Edgar Allan Poe

The Halloween season is here, and what could be a better time to talk about Baltimore's most famous literary claim, Edgar Allan Poe? You've probably read some of his poems (including the one that gives the Baltimore Ravens their name) or short stories, but there are other facts about this tragic genius that you never knew before today. Read on to learn more! 

Poe was a cat guy

You might be surprised to learn that the author of the famous short story “The Black Cat” was a cat lover himself, though of course his own cats did not suffer the same awful fate of the pet cat in the story. Poe took inspiration from his Siamese cat, which he let sit on his shoulder while he wrote. He also had a tortoiseshell cat with the incredibly cute name of Catterina -- feel free to steal that one for your next kitten.

‘Allan’ wasn’t the middle name given to Poe at birth

The man we now know as Edgar Allan Poe was born simply Edgar Poe. However, his father abandoned his family when he was a year or so old, and his mother died soon after. He was taken in by the Allan family of Richmond, VA. Even though they never formally adopted him, they did raise him, and he took ‘Allan’ as his middle name. 

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We’re not completely sure how Poe died

Poe was only forty years old when he died in Baltimore, but to this day, it’s not fully understood how it happened. He suffered from alcoholism and was found ill and incoherent a few days before passing away in 1849. Some theories include syphilis, epilepsy, and even rabies -- though some believe that he was given alcohol and forced to vote multiple times for a candidate (a practice called cooping). We’ll never know, though, since his death certificate has been lost.

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Many myths about Poe were spread by his enemy

A rival writer, Rufus Griswold, took advantage of Poe’s death to try and ruin his reputation. He claimed that Poe had been a dangerous madman and suggested he was evil and a drug addict. Poe gets the last laugh, though. After all, nobody’s reading the works of Griswold, while Poe is remembered as one of the greatest literary minds in history. 

Poe’s spirit might still be here in Baltimore

After his death, Poe was laid to rest in Baltimore’s Westminster Hall and Burying Ground. But his body might not be the only part of him that remains in the city. Supposedly, he haunts the grounds of this gorgeous piece of Baltimore history, as well as the Fell’s Point bar where he had his last known drink, The Horse You Came In On.

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