Edgar Allan Poe probably didn’t die of alcoholism, as long believed. Modern doctors believe his symptoms were that of rabies.

Quoth the Raven: It Was Actually Rabies

We’ve all heard the stories about the death of American writer Edgar Allan Poe. A hopeless alcoholic, Poe died at age 40, drunk in a gutter in Baltimore, a victim of his debauched lifestyle. Those legends abound, and they are apocryphal. Poe likely died of rabies.

Poe had been seen in a bar on Lombard Street, disheveled and delirious, but it is well established that he died in the hospital. He was comatose when admitted to Washington College Hospital. By the next day, he was perspiring heavily, hallucinating and shouting at imaginary companions. The following day, he seemed better but could not remember falling ill. On his fourth day at the hospital, Poe again grew confused and belligerent, then quieted and died on Oct. 7, 1849.

Poe… Continue Reading (3 minute read)

10 thoughts on “Edgar Allan Poe probably didn’t die of alcoholism, as long believed. Modern doctors believe his symptoms were that of rabies.”

  1. svetambara

    Rabies, once you show symptoms, has a 99.9% chance of killing you

    Edit: I agree with others here that Poe didnt conclusively die of rabies. Other leading theories are alcohol withdrawal, opium withdrawal, TBI and syphilis. Rabies is possible but I think its unlikely we will ever know

  2. DarkGamer

    I heard he was a suspected victim of cooping.

  3. green_mango_

    If a wild animal has either licked, bit or scratched you. Please go to your local health center for a rabies shot. Because, rabies is guaranteed to kill you.

  4. CowboyFleeborg

    There has been an uptick in suspected rabies cases in my area the last decade or so. I called a local university and they give me a few bait blocks to toss in my woods that have the vaccination in them for any local creature that feels like chomping them.

  5. Rudeboy67

    How does it explain his clothes? Ie. not his clothes. I thought cooping was the leading theory the past couple of decades.

    Cooping: roaming gangs would kidnap someone beat them up and get them drunk. Dress them up in different clothes and have them vote numerous times. Poe was found in a gutter, drunk, beat up and in someone else’s clothes the day after voting day.

    Edit: Apparently they might not be mutually exclusive. The rabies theory guys say Poe might have been bit by rats while being cooped. Or after he was dumped in the gutter. I could buy that.

  6. CenturianSasquatch

    This is not a common belief. Most modern doctors will admit they don’t have enough information to diagnose what actually killed him. The rat rabies theory was speculation of a contemporary physician based on Poe’s disinterest in drinking water while hospitalized. If rabies, the disease in Poe had an alarmingly short incubation. All we know is that he suffered from delirium or psychosis, attributable to what? No one really knows. This is why so many theories exist.

  7. ktka

    “I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.”

    \-Edgar Allan Poe.

  8. jmpmusic

    And that is why I’m hosting a fun run race for the cure for rabies.

  9. big_d_usernametaken

    6 year old me, year 1964, saw a cat, “hey a cat!”, went to pick it up, it bit me and ran away, drew blood. Didn’t think much of it until supper when I mentioned to my parents during supper, that a cat bit me, and drew blood. Bam! What a hullaballoo! People were running all over looking for this cat, someone found it, lured it out of where it was hiding with a piece of smoked catfish, a cop dispatched it, local vet beheaded it and sent head to Columbus to check for Rabies. Turns out cat had feline distemper and was probably dying, so no rabies and no shots. If they had been unable to find it, I would have had to get the shots.

  10. nowhereman136

    Apparently his dark and brooding personality and substance abuse was just a marketing ploy pushed by his publisher. He was a pretty normal guy for the time

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