Edgar Allan Poe gets funeral 160 years after his death

Sun Oct 11, 2009 9:46pm EDT
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BALTIMORE (Reuters Life!) - American writer Edgar Allan Poe, the master of the macabre who died penniless 160 years ago after a mysterious death, finally got a proper send-off in Baltimore on Sunday.

An elaborate funeral service was organized for Poe, whose original funeral was attended by only seven people.

The cause of his death remains unknown, although some theories suggest it was alcohol-related. The author of works like "The Raven" and the "The Black Cat" was found in a confused state on the streets of Baltimore in October 1849 and died in a city hospital a few days later at the age of 40.

A life-size replica of Poe's body went on display in a pine casket at the Poe House in Baltimore on October 7 for visitors to pay their respects, according to Jeff Jerome, curator of the Poe Museum.

"This actually is the bicentennial of Poe's birth and there was very little we could do with the birth, so we thought we would recreate Poe's funeral since his original funeral was very quick. There were only seven people in attendance," Jerome told Reuters Television.

"I thought this would be Baltimore's chance to make it right, to do it the right way."

The casket was loaded onto an old-fashioned hearse and taken through the city to Westminster Burying Ground, where the writer is buried.

Many Poe fans gathered to bid a proper farewell to the writer, whose life had been a struggle as he made very little money from his writing.

Many dressed in period costumes to join the funeral procession, some dressed as famous people who had either known Poe or had been inspired by him, such as Walt Whitman, Charles Baudelaire, and Alfred Hitchcock.

"Personally Edgar Allan Poe has meant so much to me as far as his creativity and originality, so it is great to be here. It's a privilege to be here and honor him," said one Poe fan, Roger Bow, who had come from New York for the event.

(Reporting by Reuters Television, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)