Edgar Allan Poe Biography

Edgar Allan Poe, an American writer and poet, was a prominent figure in the American Romantic Movement. Known for his tales of mystery and macabre, Poe is considered the pioneer of the detective-fiction genre and made significant contributions to science fiction. His works had a profound impact on American literature and influenced fields such as cosmology and cryptography. Poe’s Gothic fiction often explored themes of decomposition, premature burial, reanimation, and mourning, making him a key figure in the dark romanticism genre. Additionally, he gained fame for his popular poems like ‘The Raven’ and ‘Annabel Lee.’

Quick Facts

  • Died At Age: 40
  • Family: Spouse/Ex-: Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe (m. 1836–1847), father: David Poe, Jr, mother: Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe, siblings: Rosalie Poe, William Henry Leonard Poe
  • Born Country: United States
  • Quotes By Edgar Allan Poe
  • Poets
  • Died on: October 7, 1849
  • Place of death: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • Ancestry: British American, Irish American
  • City: Boston
  • U.S. State: Massachusetts
  • Discoveries/inventions: Detective Fiction
  • Education: University Of Virginia, United States Military Academy

Childhood & Early Life

Edgar Allan Poe was born Edgar Poe on January 19, 1809, in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. His parents were struggling actors attached to a repertory company in Boston. His father, David Poe Jr., abandoned his law career to become an actor, but was not very successful. His mother, Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe, was an accomplished actress. Edgar was the second of three children, with an elder brother named William Henry Leonard Poe and a younger sister named Rosalie.

In the summer of 1809, a few months after Edgar’s birth, the family relocated to New York. Shortly after, Edgar’s father abandoned the family and his mother died of tuberculosis, leaving the three children orphaned. Edgar went to live with his godfather John Allan and his wife Frances Valentine Allan in Richmond, Virginia. John Allan was a successful businessperson from Scotland.

Education and Early Career

Edgar Allan Poe studied at various schools in Scotland and England while living with the Allans. As he grew older, John Allan tried to initiate him into the family business, but Edgar had already decided to pursue a career in writing. In 1826, he entered the University of Virginia, but his gambling habits led to accumulated debt and he was forced to leave the university.

Military Service and Early Writing

In 1827, Edgar Allan Poe enlisted in the United States Army under the name Edgar A. Perry. He self-published his first book of poems, “Tamerlane and Other Poems,” while serving in the army. After leaving the military in 1829, he published his second book, “Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems.”

Literary Career and Struggles

Edgar Allan Poe’s literary career began to advance with the support of novelist John P. Kennedy. He secured a position as an assistant editor at the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond, where he published several poems, stories, book reviews, and critiques. He later moved to New York and published his novel, “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.”

Despite his success as a writer, Poe’s financial condition remained precarious. He worked as an assistant editor for various publications, including Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine and Graham’s Magazine. He also published his famous poem, “The Raven,” in 1845. However, he struggled to raise funds for his own journal and faced financial difficulties throughout his career.

Personal Life and Legacy

In 1836, Edgar Allan Poe married his cousin Virginia Eliza Clemm. She died in 1847, which had a severe impact on Poe. He died in 1849 under mysterious circumstances, and the cause of his death remains unknown. The Edgar Allan Poe Cottage in New York, where he spent his last days, is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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