The death of Edgar Allan Poe is still a dark mystery. I am indebted to John Evangelist Walsh for his well-researched and informative book Midnight Dreary. His investigation into the circumstances of Poe’s death suggests that Poe was murdered by the brothers of his fiancée Elmira Royster Shelton. Her family had prevented him from marrying her more than twenty years earlier, and the poem Annabel Lee alludes to her “highborn kinsmen” who “bore her away from me.” In his morbid way, he describes himself lying down by the side of the dead Annabel Lee “in her sepulcher there by the sea.” There can be no better indication of Poe’s bizarre cast of mind than that he apparently thought the poem a fit tribute to his impending marriage. As recounted in The Sacred Fury, he really did hand the poem, on a rolled-up piece of paper, to John Reuben Thompson just before leaving on his fatal journey through Baltimore.
Here follows a chronology of relevant events: