Edgar Allan Poe’s funeral was yesterday

Edgar Allan Poe died 160 years ago. On the anniversary of his death, yesterday, he was given the funeral he never had. As part of the festivities marking the 200th anniversary of his birth, the Presbyterian church in Baltimore in whose churchyard he is buried held two services for him. (This was just the service. He was not re-buried.) Poe died under still-mysterious circumstances, showing up incoherent at a Baltimore hospital, dying four days later, and given a hasty pauper’s burial. He was 40 years old. Poe virtually invented the short story, including the genre of the horror tale and the even-more-influential genre of the mystery, in which a detective sorts through clues to solve a crime.

(For a fictional but well-researched account of the mystery surrounding Poe’s death–including discussion of the various theories and a plausible account of what might have happened–see Matthew Pearl’s The Poe Shadow.)

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I don’t know as much about Poe as I wish I did, but I’ve come to think that no one does. He’s a mystery. Was he an alcoholic, or was he sick? Did he go insane? He was certainly a genius. He needed a good, and patient, business manager.

    I hope he found grace at the end.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I don’t know as much about Poe as I wish I did, but I’ve come to think that no one does. He’s a mystery. Was he an alcoholic, or was he sick? Did he go insane? He was certainly a genius. He needed a good, and patient, business manager.

    I hope he found grace at the end.

  • http://www.christlutheran.net Jeff Samelson

    I haven’t read the linked book, but some years ago I read a very well-argued piece that suggested, from analyzing the symptoms Poe presented before his death, that he actually died of rabies (but because of his past history, people misinterpreted those symptoms as the ravages of alcoholism).

  • http://www.christlutheran.net Jeff Samelson

    I haven’t read the linked book, but some years ago I read a very well-argued piece that suggested, from analyzing the symptoms Poe presented before his death, that he actually died of rabies (but because of his past history, people misinterpreted those symptoms as the ravages of alcoholism).

  • Nat Rhein

    He’s also more or less responsible for science fiction. Can’t forget that.

    If you’ve never read any of his stuff, do so. It’s remarkably brilliant.

  • Nat Rhein

    He’s also more or less responsible for science fiction. Can’t forget that.

    If you’ve never read any of his stuff, do so. It’s remarkably brilliant.

  • http://therighthandoffellowship.blogspot.com John H. Guthrie

    Poe was also instrumental in the development of modern literary criticism.

  • http://therighthandoffellowship.blogspot.com John H. Guthrie

    Poe was also instrumental in the development of modern literary criticism.

  • John in FW

    Does this mean he was a Christian?

  • John in FW

    Does this mean he was a Christian?

  • Bruce Gee

    There is a student room on the parade ground at UVirginia set aside as a sort of museum to Poe, as he roomed there when a student. When my son was about to attend grad school there, the classics prof giving us a tour of the grounds smirkingly said, “He dropped out. I think he was drunk all of the time.” Not at all sure the cause of his death was all that mysterious.

    He was, btw, baptized in an episcopal church in Richmond.

  • Bruce Gee

    There is a student room on the parade ground at UVirginia set aside as a sort of museum to Poe, as he roomed there when a student. When my son was about to attend grad school there, the classics prof giving us a tour of the grounds smirkingly said, “He dropped out. I think he was drunk all of the time.” Not at all sure the cause of his death was all that mysterious.

    He was, btw, baptized in an episcopal church in Richmond.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    No, Bruce, Poe’s death is mysterious, and the oft-repeated charge that he was a drunk is problematic. See this.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    No, Bruce, Poe’s death is mysterious, and the oft-repeated charge that he was a drunk is problematic. See this.

  • Nat Rhein
  • Nat Rhein
  • http://www.poebicentennial.com Jeff

    Bruce, As you probably found out that professor was a jerk. Poe didn’t drop out he was removed by his stingy step father, John Allan, because Poe gambled and got cheated out of a huge amount of money. Poe was sent to college with no funds for food, books, clothing, or anything else.

    People like that “professor” really annoy me. They spread lies about Poe because they think it’s cute or funny.

  • http://www.poebicentennial.com Jeff

    Bruce, As you probably found out that professor was a jerk. Poe didn’t drop out he was removed by his stingy step father, John Allan, because Poe gambled and got cheated out of a huge amount of money. Poe was sent to college with no funds for food, books, clothing, or anything else.

    People like that “professor” really annoy me. They spread lies about Poe because they think it’s cute or funny.

  • Jeff

    By the way, this is true, Poe was an excellent student and there were no black marks on his record for any kind of bad behavior. That’s not my opinion it’s school records. So much for that buffoon of a professor.

  • Jeff

    By the way, this is true, Poe was an excellent student and there were no black marks on his record for any kind of bad behavior. That’s not my opinion it’s school records. So much for that buffoon of a professor.


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