From childhood’s hour I have not been/ as others were . . .

Today is the 155th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s death. Poe died under mysterious circumstances, collapsing on a Baltimore street at the age of 40. Literary scholars have debated since his death whether the collapse was due to alcohol poisoning. A more recent theory is that he died of rabies.

False chimney in Poe's Philadelphia houseLast week I posted a photograph of Poe’s cellar in Philadelphia. In honor of the anniversary, here’s another photo, taken by Mr. Maud earlier this year, of the cellar’s chimney. It’s said to be an inspiration for the false chimney in which the narrator of “The Black Cat” accidentally traps a cat while trying to hide his wife’s body after he kills her.

Poe’s mother died when he was three, after his father abandoned the family. He was raised by relatives. As I mentioned in an old post on writers and childhood, some scholars have speculated that Poe’s resulting feelings of abandonment compelled the detachment and horror wrought in his stories.


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