Edgar Allan Poe
‘We loved with a love that was more than love.’
Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe was born on the 19th of January 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts. His short stories and poems captured the imagination and interest of readers around the world.
The son of actors, Poe never really knew his parents. His father left the family early on, and his mother passed away when he was only three. Separated from his siblings, Poe went to live with John and Frances Allan, a successful tobacco merchant and his wife, in Richmond, Virginia.
Poe published his first book, Tamerlane and Other Poems in 1827, and he joined the army around the same time. Poe wanted to go to West Point, a military academy, and won a place there in 1830. Before going to West Point, he published a second collection Al Aaraaf, Tamberlane, and Minor Poems in 1829. Poe excelled at his studies at West Point, but he was dismissed after a year. During his time at West Point, Poe argued with his foster father and Allan severed all ties with him.
After leaving the academy, Poe focused on his writing. He lived in New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Richmond. From 1831 to 1835, he stayed in Baltimore with his aunt Maria Clemm and her daughter Virginia. Virginia became a literary inspiration to Poe as well as his love interest. The couple married in 1836 when she was 13 or 14 years old.
In the late 1830s, Poe published Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, a collection of stories. It contained several of his most spine-tingling tales, including The Fall of the House of Usher. Poe launched the new genre of detective fiction with 1841’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue. A writer on the rise, he won a literary prize in 1843 for The Gold Bug, a tale of secret codes and hunting treasure.
Poe became a literary sensation in 1845 with the publication of the poem The Raven. It is considered a great American literary work and one of the best of Poe’s career.
Poe was overcome by grief after the death of his beloved Virginia in 1847. While he continued to work, he suffered from poor health and struggled financially. His final days remain something of a mystery. He left Richmond on September 27, 1849, supposedly on his way to Philadelphia. On October 3, Poe was found in Baltimore in great distress. He was taken to Washington College Hospital where he died on October 7. His last words were “Lord, help my poor soul”.
At the time, it was said that Poe died of ‘congestion of the brain’. But his actual cause of death has been the subject of endless speculation. Some experts believe that alcoholism led to his demise while others offer up alternative theories. Rabies, epilepsy, carbon monoxide poisoning are just some of the conditions thought to have led to the great writer’s death.
While he never had financial success in his lifetime, Poe has become one of America’s most enduring writers. A bright, imaginative thinker, Poe crafted stories and poems that still shock, surprise and move modern readers.