Some of the
remedies touted as cures for tuberculosis in Poe's time included using opium (not yet illegal),
eating a meat diet, smoking cow dung, drinking a mixture of elephant's blood and milk, and
eating mice boiled in salt and oil.
Since the disease was considered fatal, victims were desperate. Some people believed that the disease was a punishment from
Other home remedies of the time included:
Onion syrup. Onions were boiled to a concentrated solution and sugar was
added to sweeten it. This was used for colds.
Cod Liver Oil was used to cure rickets, a condition caused by lack of
Snake oil was used as a liniment for aches and pains.
Tuberculosis was a dreaded disease in
the 19th century, one to which not only Poe's wife succumbed, but also his
mother. When Virginia Poe came down with this disease, there were no
sanitariums or antibiotics with which to cure her. It was not even known
at this time that tuberculosis was highly contagious.
As Virginia's condition worsened, Poe moved his family in 1846, from crowded
New York City, which he disliked, to the rural village of Fordham, which was
then a part of Westchester County. It was hoped that the country air
and healthier environment would bring about an improvement in Virginia's
health. He rented a cottage that had been built around 1812, which
was owned by one John Valentine. The yearly rent was $100.00.
Virginia's health did not improve and she died in the small bedroom of the
cottage on January 30, 1847.
The poet and his mother-in-law continued to stay at the cottage, which still
exists and has been restored in many respects to the period of time when the
Poe family lived there. Poe died in 1849 in Baltimore while on a trip
and Mrs. Clemm returned to Baltimore herself, after selling Poe's meager
Other interesting Poe topics
Poe's Feud with Longfellow: One target of
Poe's critical pen was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, whom Poe accused of
plagiarism, among other misdeeds. Longfellow did not reciprocate in
kind, and in fact, after Poe's death, he purchased several volumes of
Poe's works in order to help Poe's mother-in-law.
Edgar Allan Poe wrote the poem, Alone,
in 1829, when he was 20 years old and the same year that his foster
mother, Frances Allan, died, it was not published during his short
lifetime. The untitled work was discovered after his death, and was
actually first published in 1875 ...