This is a weekly blogpost series by our intern Lily Bui. She writes about radio, technology, and more.


January 19th marks 204 years since Edgar Allan Poe’s birth. However, it’s seldom the beginning of his life that proves most interesting but rather the tail end of it. There are several theories about Edgar Allan Poe’s death, all of them just as mysterious and elusive as he was. The last known sighting of Poe was in Baltimore, Maryland, on October 3, 1879. He was found dressed in someone else’s clothes and seemed disoriented (possibly drugged or under the influence of something).

The most intriguing theory is the one that proposes Poe was “cooped” on a local election day of that year. When a person is “cooped,” they’re kidnapped, drugged, or bribed to be dressed up as different people, then taken to the polls to vote multiple times–swaying the vote toward a candidate, depending on who’s behind the cooping.

“The Truth” podcast does a great job at reimagining this bizarre situation in an eerie radio drama, which was also part of a PRX special from election season called The Devil You Know. (Other theories about his death are enumerated here via Wikipedia.)

Though historians would likely disagree, I think it’s better that the exact cause of Poe’s death remains unknown. Edgar Allan Poe: poet, author, native Bostonian, science fiction pioneer. Man of the macabre until the very end–’til he was nevermore.

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