Bizarre Author Deaths V

This week’s blog post is dedicated to two more bizarre author deaths.  Initially I did not envisage that this author series would have so many instalments, but with the multitude of bizarre/mysterious author deaths that have occurred down the years, I anticipate that there will be at least a further two instalments at some point.

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

(January 19th 1809 – October 7th 1849) 

Notable works: The Raven, The Masque of the Red Death, Tamerlan and Other Poems

Poe was an author, poet, editor and literary critic, whose tales of mystery and the macabre are still widely read to this day.  One of the earliest American practitioners of the short story, Poe is also widely considered as being the inventor of the detective fiction genre.  Evidence of the writer’s enduring popularity is the fact that an original copy of Poe’s Tamerlane and Other Poems sold at Christie’s in New York for $662,500, a record price for a work of American literature.

The bizarre events surrounding Poe’s death were as mysterious as the nature of his writing.  On October 3rd 1849 Mr. Joseph Walker found Poe wandering the streets of Baltimore in a delirious state.  The writer was taken to hospital, but was unable to give an accurate account of what had occurred before his demise four days later.

There has been much speculation surrounding Poe’s sudden deterioration and death.  Due to the fact that he was found wearing someone else’s clothes it has been argued that he was the victim of cooping, a practice in which citizens were attacked, absconded, plied with alcohol and forced to vote for a political candidate.  His sudden deterioration and demise has also been attributed to alcoholism, TB, epilepsy, diabetes and even rabies.

Dan Andersson

Dan Andersson

 (April 6th 1888 – September 16th 1920)

Notable works: The Charcoal-Burner’s Tales, The Charcoal-Burner’s Songs, Three Homeless Ones

Dan Andersson was a Swedish author, poet and composer, who became a cult figure in his native Sweden posthumously. Regarded as one of Sweden’s greatest ever poets, his themes of naturalist mysticism and searching for God continue to resonate with his readers to this day.

Andersson’s memory has been commemorated with two stamps in his honour, a museum in his hometown of Ludrika, in addition to a Dan Andersson week, celebrated in the first week of every August.  There is also a bust of the iconic poet in the country’s capital, Gothenburg.

The thirty-two year old Andersson met his premature demise when he went to Stockholm in September 1920 to try and secure a job at the newspaper Social-Demokraten.  On arrival at the hotel he was due to stay in, the Hotel Hellman, the receptionist failed to inform him that his room had just been treated with hydrogen cyanide, in an effort to eradicate an infestation of bed bugs.  At three pm on September 16th 1920 Andersson was found dead in his room.

Click here to read Part IV



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  • Two very strange deaths indeed. Poe probably wouldn’t have minded being plied with alcohol. Or maybe even hydrogen cyanide.

  • Poe was not found wandering streets, Baltimore or anywhere. He was found by Walker sitting in a polling place on election day (leading to further fodder for the cooping theory, to which few Poe scholars lend any credence), also a tavern at the time. How he got there is uncertain.
    As for being plied with alcohol, as noted in the comments: Please be aware that Poe had joined a temperance society and swore to live a life of sobriety. Yes, I think he would have minded being forced to drink alcohol to the point of senselessness at a time when he was trying to quit.
    If I can offer my theory as generally as possible: Like many others, Poe probably died of some sort of health problem. Not as exciting as people want it to sound, I know!

    • A health problem sounds like a plausible reason for Poe’s demise. The cooping theory does sound a little fantastical, but who knows. Perhaps Poe had started drinking again, he wouldn’t be the first alcoholic to go off the rails. Thanks for the comment.

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