[2014] Rea Pallis (Moore 2015): Edgar Allan Poe Biography

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[2014] Rea Pallis (Moore 2015): Edgar Allan Poe Biography


Edgar Allan Poe Biography

Edgar Poe was born to Eliza and David Poe on January 19, 1808in Boston Massachusetts. He had one older brother, Henry and a younger sister named Rosalie. Shortly after Poe's sister was born,his parents split and his father moved away. When Edgar was only3 years old his mother died of turberculosis, the family recived notice that their father had passed away of the same disease mere days later. Edgar and his siblings were seperated when Henry was sent to live with their grandparents and Edgar and Rosalie were sent to different foster families. Edgar went to live with the Allan family who couldn't have children of their own. Poe added Allan onto his name but hisfoster father John had a bad relationship with him and his foster mother wasn't around much.

Marriage and a Career


In September of 1849, Edgar was travling from Richmond to New York to promote his new magazine and he made a stop in Baltimore. Nobody knows why he stopped in Baltimore but he was found lying in a street semi-conscious andwearing clothes that didn't fit him. Edgar passed away 4 days later in hospital. The cause of death remains a mystery but there aremany rumours. One of the most popular is that he was "cooped". The fact that he was found around election day strenghtens thisargument. The term cooped means that he was kidnapped by apolitical gang who dressed him up in different clothes and forced him to vote at different polling sites. The victim often gets injured or is killed by the end. Other theories include that he drank himself to death or died of turburculosis, the same disease that his parents,brother and wife passed away from. Poe had a short funeral which only 7 people attended in which he was buried in an unmarked grave. Edgar's grave was later moved to Westminster burying ground. He was laid to rest next to Maria Clemm and Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe.

On May 16th 1836 Edgar married his 13 year old cousin, Virginia Eliza Clemm, he was 27. It wasn't unusual to marry first cousins in that time, although Virginia had to be registered as 21. The couple and Virginia's mother who was also Edgar's aunt, all lived in Richmond together. Poe was very devoted to Virginia and taught her mathamatics and music. Later that year, Edgar published 3 more books of poetry and got a job working for the Southern Literary Messanger. He got payed $800 a year and when his boss wouldn't increase his salary, he quit. In the couple of years that followed, the family was very poor. In 1838 they all moved to Phalidalphia and Edgar's writing carrer picked up. They gained more money and he was able to buy Virginia a piano. In 1840 he published Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque which was a collection of his short stories. This is what made him known as a master of the short story form. Poe then took a job at Graham's Magazine, the magazine published Murders in the Rue Morge, the world's first detective story. Everything was going well for once in Edgar Poe's life when one evening in 1842, while Virginia was playing piano, she began to bleed from her mouth; a symptom of tuberculosis.

Historical Significance


From 1815 to 1820, the Allan family lived in England. Edgar got a good education and was an excellent student. The family moved back to Richmond and Poe wrote his first poem at the age of 15. It was called"Last night, with many cares & toils oppress’d Weary, I laid me on a couch to rest." It was written in 1824. In 1826, Edgar went to The University of Virginia, he was still a good student but had a gambling problem andby the end of his first semester he had reached a $2000 debt that his fosterfather refused to pay. Poe left the university.

In 1827, Poe inlisted in the U.S Army under the name Edgar A. Perry. He did well and earned the title of Sergeant Major but continued to write and published a book of poems anonymously. Then in 1829 he entered a U.S Military Academy in West Point. He published another book of poetry. Edgar didn't like West Point so he got himself kicked out of the academy by refusing to attend classes. Right after he left West Point his brother passed away of tuberculosis. John Allan, his foster father left his wife to marry a wealthy woman and stopped supporting Edgar who was always in need of money. In 1833 Edgar wrote a letter to John begging him for money but he never responded to the letter. John Allan took Edgar off his will and died a year later on March 27th 1834.

Army and John Allan

Virginia's Death

The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary, those are the opening lines of the famous poem. Poe got a job for The New York City Mirror which published one of his most famous poems; The Raven on January 29th 1845. The poem had many symbols to decode. It spoke of a lost lenore which mixed with the symbolizm for death with the raven suggests that the poem is about a woman who has passed away or who is close to death. The Raven brought Edgar fame and money.

In 1844 Virginia, her mother and Edgar moved to New York. Earnings from The Raven gave Poe enough money to buy his own magazine. He bought the Broadway Journal but it was already in debt and failed in January of 1846. Virginia's illness progressed and Edgar began to drink heavily under the stress. The three of them moved to the last home they will all share together located in The Bronx. Virginia died on January 30th 1847. Edgar became very sick after her death and he drank more than ever before. In fthe fall of 1848 Poe proposed to a fellow poet, Sarah Helen Whitman. She said that she would marry him only if he stopped drinking, edgar was unable to get sober and Sarah calls off the engagment. The next summer, Edgar goes to Richmond to ask Emira Royster Shelton to marry him. The two had a relationship before he married Virginia and Emira said yes. Edgar then joined an organazation that was like today's Alcoholics Anonymous. Unfortunatley, Edgar died before the two could marry.

Edgar Allan Poe dared to do what nobody had done before. He was the first american to make a living solely on his writing. He wrote the first detective story and influenced many writers such as H.P Lovecraft, Stephen King, Charles Dickens and the author of Sherlock Holmes; Arthur Conan Doyle. There are statues of Edgar in Baltimore and Boston. A museum was also built in 1922 which is dedicated to him, carrying his letters, manuscripts and personal belongings. There is also an award named after him. His short stories and poems are still treasured to this day by many.

"The ordinary novel is objectionable from it's length as it cannot be read at one sitting, it deprives itself, of course, of the immense force derivable from totality.


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