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Biography of Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 19th, 1809. As the son of actress Eliza Poe and actor David Poe, jr., Edgar Allan led a troubled childhood.

Poe never had the chance to meet his father and at the age of three his mother passed away. After, Poe was taken to Richmond, Virginia where a successful merchant named John Allan addopted young Poe.

Later Poe graduated from secondary school before registering at the University of Virginia. There he would spend one year before enlisting in the US Army as Edgar A. Perry on May 26th, 1827. After serving two years in the military and already attaining the rank of Sergeant-major, Poe was honorably discharged. Poe then received an invitation to attend West Point, however he deliberately disobeyed orders and was compelled to dismissal.

Poe's next venture was to Baltimore, Maryland with his widowed aunt, Maria Clemm, and her daughter, Virginia. He would find an occupation as a fiction writer and in December of 1835 began editing the Southern Literary Messenger for Thomas W. White in Richmond, Virginia until January 1837.

In the mean time, Poe would marry his cousin Virginia on May 16th, 1836.

After his stint with the Southern Literary Messenger, Poe spent fifteen months in New York before moving to Philadelphia. After his arrival, the novella The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym had taken off.

In the summer of 1839 Poe became an assistant editor of Burton's Gentleman's Magazine. While there he published many articles, stories and reviews and re-establishing himself as an analytical critic.

The same year, a collection of Poe's works became available in two volumes, the Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque. Although the books were not a financial success, they later became known as an American milestone in literature.

In 1840 Poe left Burton's and began seeking a new position. Shortly after he would become an assistant editor at Graham's Magazine.

Over a year later, Virginia began showing signs of tuberculosis after suffering a lung hemorrhage in January 1842. Under this stress, Edgar Allan Poe began drinking heavily and left his position to begin looking for a government post.

Failing to do so, Poe found himself back in New York working for the Broadway Journal as an editor. While there he became part of a noisy feud with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. And on January 29th, 1845 "The Raven" was published in the Evening Mirror and became a quick sensation.

The journal failed in 1846. Poe moved to a cottage in the Bronx, which is now open to the public, where his wife passed away the following year.

Unstable Poe began courting a fellow poet, Sarah Helen Whitman. However, their engagement failed due to his drinking and erratic behavior and on some accounts due to Whitman's mother.

While engaged, Poe attempted suicide by laudanum.

Poe then returned to Richmond, Virginia and resumed a relationship with his childhood sweetheart, Sarah Elmira Royster who was a widow.

On October 3rd, 1849, Poe was found in "great distress, and... in need of immediate assistance" according to the man who found him. Poe was taken to the Washington College Hospital where he would die the morning of October 7th.

Poe was never conscious long enough to explain what had happened or why he was wearing clothes which he did not own. Some believe he died of drunkenness, others believe rabies, diabetes or even used as a pawn in a ballot-box-stuffing scam.

Some say his last words were "It's all over now; write Eddy is no more." While others say they were "Lord help this poor soul."

Poems by Edgar Allan Poe

Short Stories by Edgar Allan Poe

  • The Black Cat. A study of guilt.
  • The Cask of Amontillado. A friend seeking revenge.
  • Eleonora. Seen as somewhat autobiographical.
  • The Fall of the House of Usher. Seen as his most famous prose.
  • The Imp of the Perverse. A theory on self-destructive behavior.
  • The Masque of the Red Death. A man tries to avoid the "Red Death".
  • The Pit and the Pendulum. About a man being tortured during the Spanish Inquisition.
  • The Premature Burial. On the theme of being buried alive.
  • The Purloined Letter. The third and most famous detective story starring C. Auguste Dupin.
  • The Tell Tale Heart. Through the insanity of a murderer.