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A MYSTERY OF MYSTERIES: The Death and Life of Edgar Allan Poe
A brilliant new biography of Edgar Allan Poe that examines the renowned author’s life through the prism of his mysterious death and its many possible causes
It is a moment shrouded in horror and mystery. Edgar Allan Poe died on October 7, 1849, at just forty, in a painful, utterly bizarre manner that would not have been out of place in one of his own tales of terror. What was the cause of his untimely death, and what happened to him during the three missing days before he was found, delirious and “in great distress” on the streets of Baltimore, wearing ill-fitting clothes that were not his own?
Mystery and horror. Poe, who remains one of the most iconic of American writers, died under haunting circumstances that reflect the two literary genres he took to new heights. Over the years, there has been a staggering amount of speculation about the cause of death, from rabies and syphilis to suicide, alcoholism, and even murder. But many of these theories are formed on the basis of the caricature we have come to associate with Poe: the gloomy-eyed grandfather of Goth, hunched over a writing desk with a raven perched on one shoulder, drunkenly scribbling his chilling masterpieces. By debunking the myths of how he lived, we come closer to understanding the real Poe—and uncovering the truth behind his mysterious death, as a new theory emerges that could prove the cause of Poe’s death was haunting him all his life.
In a compelling dual-timeline narrative alternating between Poe’s increasingly desperate last months and his brief but impactful life, Mark Dawidziak sheds new light on the enigmatic master of macabre.
MARK DAWIDZIAK is the television critic at Cleveland’s Plain Dealer and the author of two histories of landmark television series: The Columbo Phile and The Night Stalker Companion. Also a nationally recognized Mark Twain scholar, Dawidziak has written several books on the author in addition to his work on the horror side of the street which includes The Bedside, Bathtub, & Armchair Companion to Dracula, Grave Secrets, The Tell-Tale Play, short stories, and comic book scripts. He lives in Ohio.
Early praise for A Mystery of Mysteries:
“Edgar Allan Poe has brooded over the world’s comprehension as the dark prince of horror tales: a hollow-eyed specter surrounded by candle-tossed shadows, a raven on his writing table, an empty cognac glass at his elbow. In this revelatory biography, Mark Dawidziak honors the Gothic nature of Poe’s work, yet sweeps open the curtains to throw full light upon this masterful poet and shaper of American literature.” —Ron Powers, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Flags of Our Fathers and Mark Twain: A Life
“A poignant and realistic picture of Poe through the fascinating black prism of his mysterious death.” —J.W. Ocker, Edgar Award-winning author of Poe-Land
“Mark Dawidziak plumbs the mysteries of Poe’s life and career with extraordinary skill and knowledge. Much like Montresor leading Fortunato through the winding catacombs, he leaves the reader surprised and thoroughly ensnared.” —Daniel Stashower, Edgar Award-winning author of The Hour of Peril and The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder
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