Theophanes is a New-England-based blogger, traveler, writer, photographer, sculptor, and lover of cats.
Authors have proved throughout history to have some of the most intriguing lives ever speculated upon. So often their writing enthralls us so much that we wonder how much of themselves are they leaving out of their masterpieces. Who were they really? In our search for the souls of these writers we sometimes come across more questions then answers. Below I have summarized three of the most classic mysteries involving well-known writers.
The Mysterious Circumstances Surrounding the Death of Edgar Allen Poe
Edgar Allen Poe is probably most noted for his eerie poem, The Raven. During his lifetime he wrote rather prolifically, publishing all sorts of haunting short stories and cryptic poetry. His notoriety unfortunately did not come along until after his death. He died in Baltimore on October 7, 1848 in the hospital. This all sounds very mundane until it's learned that he was only admitted to the hospital after a Joseph W. Walker found him wandering the streets in a state of delirium. Even more peculiarly Poe was not wearing his own clothing. He spent five days in the hospital and was unable to tll anyone what had happened. It's said the only words he uttered was a repeated cry of "Reynolds" and "lord help my poor soul" shortly before he died. To this day no one knows where Poe was, why he wasn't wearing his own clothing, what had happened to spark this fit of madness, or who the mysterious Reynolds was. Was he suffering from mercury poisoning from the Calomel tablets he was known to have been given by the doctors of the day? Was he suffering from a disease as some suspect that got into his brain? Or did someone ruff him up? A violent subset of the population at the time did use some despicable methods to force people to vote multiple times for a political candidate. Did these people have something to do with the state he was in? No one really knows and it doesn't seem likely they ever will..
The Mysterious Disappearance of Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie is probably the world's most recognized mystery writer so it seems fitting that her own life had a spark of the unknown in it. It was December 3, 1926 when she disappeared from her home in Berkshire England. Her car was found a few miles away with some clothes and identification inside but she was nowhere to be found. Her mental state at the time probably wasn't good as she had lost her mother a few months previously and was still dealing with the death. On top of this she had just learned of her husband's affair with a Miss Nancy Neele. She was said to have been nervous and depressed.
Christie reappeared eleven days later in a hotel where she had been since the 4th. Her husband identified her and she was taken home. Bizarrely she had signed in the name Teresa Neele. During these eleven days the press had gone wild speculating she had committed suicide, run into foul play, or was hosting an enormous publicity stunt. After being found alive most historians believe she probably had a nervous breakdown at this time, which was a theory supported by the confusing and tangled letters she had sent to friends and family previously to the disappearance.
Why did she leave? Was she aware what she was doing? Was this all planned? No one will ever know...
The Strange Disappearance of Ambroce Bierce
Ambrose Bierce was one of America's most cantankerous and surly personalities. He was a journalist for many years but is most known today for his short story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" and his book The Devil's Dictionary. Due to his churlish nature and his habit of making stuff up to write for the newspaper (which at the time was legal as slander was not yet put into American law) he had a great many enemies. Even in life he was a mysterious individual, seemingly a different person to everyone who met him. It comes as little surprise that we stop hearing about him in 1914 when he disappeared.
After this wild stories abound about where he went and if he actually died or if he started life anew somewhere else as someone else. What is known is that he had made plans to observe and report on Poncho Villa's army in Mexico. During this time he did write letters but they abruptly stopped after December 26, 1913. his last known words a prophetic "As to me, I leave here tomorrow for an unknown destination." which was the last line of his last letter. He also wrote a letter to his cousin Lora where he cryptically pens, "Good-bye - if you hear of my being stood up against a Mexican stone wall and shot to rags please know that I think that a pretty good way to depart this life. It beats old age, disease, or falling down the cellar stairs. To be a Gringo in Mexico-ah, that is euthanasia!"
So what really happened to him? Most historians like to think that he did die as his letter prophesized, that he was executed or killed while trying to find Poncho Villa's army. Others like to speculate that he didn't go to Mexico at all but instead made his way to the Grand Canyon where he found some secluded spot to shoot himself dead. Others claim that he wet to Mexico to work as a spy, though espionage doesn't seem to suit his vociferous nature. some theories get very bizarre, like the one claiming he was kidnapped by a tribe in South America and was kept hostage as a God. Some even say he escaped to Europe. Personally I have to wonder if he didn't try to make himself disappear in order to secure himself a legacy. He was after all one of the world's best creepy paranormal writers, what would be a more fitting death then a disappearance?
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Ann Leavitt from Oregon on June 20, 2009:
Fascinating! I have always loved a good mystery, and it is the "delight of a king to seek out a matter" Proverbs, from Bible. Great article.