Friendship Poems

Edgar Allan Poe Biography

Edgar_Allan_Poe_2_retouched_and_transparent_bgEdgar Allan Poe was an American writer, poet, editor and literary critic who is considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Poe is best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre. Poe was one of the earliest American short story writers and is considered to be the inventor of the detective-fiction genre. He is further credited with heavily contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. History shows that he was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, which resulted in a financially difficult life and career.

He was born as Edgar Poe in Boston, Massachusetts on January 19, 1809, the second child of actress Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe and actor David Poe, Jr. He had an elder brother, William Henry Leonard Poe, and a younger sister, Rosalie Poe. His father is reported to have abandoned their family in 1810, and his mother died a year later from consumption. Poe was then taken in by John and Frances Allan, of Richmond, Virginia, although they never formally adopted him. After spending a short time at the University of Virginia and briefly attempting a military career, Poe parted ways with the Allans for the rest of his life. Poe’s publishing career began rather humbly, with an anonymous collection of poems, Tamerlane and Other Poems , published in 1827, which were credited only to “a Bostonian”.

Poe then switched his focus to prose and spent the next several years working for literary journals and periodicals and becoming known for his own style of literary criticism. His work forced him to move between several cities, which included Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City.

Poe married Virginia Clemm, his 13-year-old cousin, despite her age being listed as 21 on the marriage certificate, in Baltimore in 1835. In January 1845, Poe published his poem The Raven and received instant popular success. Sadly, his wife died of tuberculosis two years later. He then began planning to produce his own journal, The Penn, later renamed The Stylus, though he died before it could be produced. Poe died in Baltimore, at age 40, on October 7, 1849 and, though the cause of his death is unknown, it has been variously attributed to alcohol, brain congestion, cholera, drugs, heart disease, rabies, suicide, tuberculosis and other factors.

Poe and his works heavily influenced literature in the United States and around the world, as well as in specialized fields, such as cosmology and cryptography. Poe’s legacy is that his work appears throughout popular culture in literature, music, films and television. Additionally, a number of his homes are dedicated museums today.

After his brother’s death in 1831, Poe began more earnest attempts to start his career as a writer. Unfortunately he chose a difficult time in American publishing to do so; he was hampered by the lack of an international copyright law. Publishers often pirated copies of British works rather than paying for new work by American writers. The industry was also hurt by the Panic of 1837, despite a booming growth in American periodicals around this time period and fueled in part by new technology, many did not last beyond a few issues and publishers often refused to pay their writers or paid them much later than they promised. Poe, throughout his attempts at pursuing a successful literary career and some success would be forced to constantly make humiliating pleas for money and other assistance for the rest of his life.

In spite his difficulties and the losses he constantly experienced throughout his life, Edgar Allan Poe left a timeless legacy in his body of work. During his lifetime he was mostly recognized as a literary critic; however, his works continue on long after his death.


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