Midnight Dreary: The Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe Summary

John Evangelist Walsh


Walsh begins his examination into the death of Poe by writing,

It is a century and a half since the death of Edgar Allan Poe and still there exist urgent questions about what happened, both circumstances and cause. In that situation, surely, there resides a macabre rightness. The man who invented the detective story, in his own sudden and bizarre demise, provided American literature with its most enduring real-life mystery.

From the moment Poe's death was announced to the world, until now, the nature of his death has been uncertain. Perhaps he was found lying in a gutter, or found staggering in the street, or found seated in a tavern; perhaps he died of blows to the head, or died of alcohol poisoning, or died of an infection, or died of exposure. The possible explanation for Poe's passing has challenged scholars for decades. Some biographers sidestep the issue; others offer theories. After a century and a half, the trails would seem to have grown cold, but in Midnight Dreary Walsh amazes readers as he pulls together data from a multitude of sources, arranges the data so that the result makes sense, and offers a gripping account of love, betrayal, hope, and murder.

Is Poe's death worthy of a book to itself? Yes, it is. Poe was no ordinary man and no ordinary writer. Even in the present day he is among the world's most read authors, and probably millions of people learned to love literature by...

(The entire section is 331 words.)