Edgar Allan Poe’s 1843 Balloon Hoax tale and actual newspaper story (Poe’s revenge for an earlier 1835 moon hoax plagiarized from an earlier Poe tale) embarrassed the very newspapers who would later cover up the author’s 1849 murder—a murder exposed by Scarriet.

The small band of murderers included employees of the Baltimore Sun, Messrs Jsph Snodgrass and Jsph Walker (a couple of Joe’s). They had assistance from Poe’s own cousin, Neilson. The Balloon Hoax triumph by Poe was published, as a new book on Poe tells us, in that very newspaper, the Sun, to the embarrassment of its employees. The new book is The Reason for the Darkness of the Night: Edgar Allan Poe and the Forging of American Science. It is by John Tresch and was published in 2021 by FSG.

The new work on Poe is extremely welcome—but it’s not about Poe’s death.

Scarriet has covered Poe’s probable murder elsewhere—correspondence exists in which Poe confessed to Snodgrass—a few years prior to Poe’s mysterious death—his utter hatred for Neilson. Every Poe biographer simply (and blindly) calls Snodgrass and Neilson Poe’s “friends.” None has been curious how Poe’s death coincided with Snodgrass and Neilson Poe appearing at the scene with the convenient note from Walker saying, “Oh, hey, Mr. Snodgrass: Poe—near death—is asking specifically for you!” In a staggering example of collective naivety, with the evidence staring them in the face, every Poe scholar and biographer has missed this essence of America’s greatest literary mystery and tragedy.

One of the conspirators was Horace Greeley, the corrupt and insane editor of the New York Tribune who hired the lunatic and famous poetry anthologist Rufus Griswold to damn Poe with a creepy obituary signed “Ludwig” hours after Poe’s hurried and secret burial by Neilson and Snodgrass. (Horace Greeley, as a presidential candidate, would go on to win the state of Maryland where Poe was murdered—in the part of Baltimore where Lincoln was disguised as an old woman by Pinkerton 10 years later; Greeley ran against Ulysses S. Grant. You can’t make this stuff up. Greeley, for political reasons, and Griswold, more for personal and literary reasons, were Poe’s sworn enemies.)

Poe had hoaxed and misinformed his way to the greatest insult in literary history. Newspaper owners were princes and Poe had beaten them at their own game.

But Poe was probably the most scientific author who ever wrote fiction. His essay on the universe—Eureka—influenced Einstein. Poe was interested in mysteries and hoaxes—because he loved science.

Poe’s literary style was a combination of realism and fantasy for an express purpose.

The fantasy and reality of Poe himself has been mixed up for a very long time—and it’s high time America gets the story right.

1 Comment

  1. maryangeladouglas said,

    January 19, 2022 at 1:42 pm

    This is a very sorrowful thing to know but certainly Edgar Allen Poe deserves at least from us the truth about how he died. Thank you so much for this vital information. I really hope as a result of your deeply felt and cogently expressed essay on the subject more will come to light and be accepted as general knowledge.That would be, however sorrowful, some kind of real present for his birthday.

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