Poe and tuberculosis

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Why did all the women around Poe die of tuberculosis, but yet he never contracted the disease?

-- Anonymous, November 15, 2000



Good question and certainly applicable considering the devotion he demonstrated for his wife, Virginia. However, the fact is that not all the women in his life died of tuberculosis (consumption). His mother, Elizabeth Arnold Poe is thought to have died of pneumonia in Richmond, Virginia on December 8, 1811.

The death of Ms. Jane Stith Craig Stanard, Poe's "... first, purely ideal love of my soul..", also occurred in Richmond on April 28, 1824 when Poe was 15 years old. Ms. Stanard has been said to have died of brain cancer. While this is not known for sure, she was reported to have been "mentally unbalanced" for periods of time. Regardless, there is no historical evidence or testimony to support a death from tuberculosis.

The death of Frances Keeling Valentine Allan, Poe's foster mother, occurred on February 28, 1829 in Richmond. The only historical reference to her cause of death is a "lingering and painful" illness and no mention is made of consumption. Frances Allan was known to have been sensitive to frail health and was ill during much of their stay in England.

William Henry Leonard Poe, Edgar's brother died in Baltimore on August 1, 1831, most likely from a cholera epidemic that was spreading throughout the large cities of New England. There may be some possibility it was tuberculosis but the cholera epidemic lasted throughout 1831 and did no end until 1832.

Edgar Allan Poe's wife, Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe, died on Janaury 30, 1847 in Fordham, New York. The cause of death was tuberculosis. Her illness cycled between periods when it appeared she was recovering and would then decline rapidly. Each cycle brought high hopes of recovery that always seemed to end in deeper fits of despair. There were said to be days on end when Poe would refuse to leave her bedside and would fall into fits of rage at any suggestion the she would not survive. Considering Poe's devotion to her and his close attendance to her needs, it does seem strange that he did not develop the disease himself.

It is known however, that some people do not necessarily develop the disease but can act as carriers. If the disease does not become active, the sufferer will not show the usual symptoms.

Best Regards,

-- Anonymous, November 16, 2000

Who knows- God works in mysterious ways... Why do you bother yourself with such an unanswerable question?

-- Anonymous, September 12, 2001

God doesnt work in mysterious ways, that is just folly the weak minded.

-- Anonymous, February 22, 2003

Poe swam 6 miles! AGAINST CURRENT!!!!!!!!! when he was fifTEEN!!!!!!!

-- Anonymous, February 24, 2004

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