Edgar Allan Poe has been called the first truly modern author. He was the first American to live completely by what he earned through writing, according to The Los Angeles Times — although his profits remained grim during his short life.

The anniversary of Edgar Allan’s death this month, Oct. 7 to be exact, recalls a day that reflected much of the influential horror author’s work — devoid of answers and filled with disturbing possibilities. Literary theorists and experts have blamed everything from alcohol to carbon monoxide poisoning. One doctor even posthumously diagnosed Poe with rabies.

The rabies theory came from a a blind diagnosis done in 1996 by a doctor who was shown the case study for a writer from Richmond, Virginia, named E.P. Since he did not know that the initials stood for Edgar Poe, the doctor had no preconceived bias about the author’s drinking habits and depressive history. Jeff Jerome, curator of the Poe House Museum in Baltimore, told the Chicago Tribune that he accepts this analysis, or at least credits it is as more viable than popular theories that Poe drank himself to death.
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