New Lead on Poe's Death Excites Buffs

Accounts of Poe's brain may solve 'biggest literary mystery'
By Lise Colyer,  Newser User
Posted Oct 21, 2007 4:25 PM CDT
Edgar Allan Poe is shown in this undated photo. A professor believes he has solved the 146-year-old mystery of the death of Poe -thanks to the tell-tale medical records. R. Michael Benitez, who practices...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Accounts of Edgar Allan Poe's exhumed brain may prove how he died, says Matthew Pearl, author of The Poe Shadow. He found reports of Poe's "dried and hardened" brain, "diminished in size," in old newspapers—and confirmed them as signs of a tumor. One Poe descendant says that Pearl has “stumbled onto something quite important," perhaps solving a great Poe puzzle, the New York Observer reports.

Some theories have him dying of rabies and drink, both on display at Poe's museum in Richmond, Virginia. Scholars do know that Poe vanished in 1849 before a man took him to hospital, where he "ranted and raved," Pearl says, and died at age 40. Now they have "some evidence" to work with, adds Pearl. "It’s not just throwing the word ‘rabies’ out there and thinking, ‘That sounds good!’"