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Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809, in Boston, Massachusetts. His father, named David Poe Jr., and his mother, named Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe, were traveling actors. Both parents died in 1811, and Poe became an orphan before he was 3 years old. He was adopted by John Allan, a tobacco merchant in Richmond, Virginia, and was sent to a boarding school in London, England. He later attended the University of Virginia for one year. However, he dropped out and ran up massive gambling debts after spending all of his tuition money. John Allan broke off Poe's engagement to his fiance Sarah Royster. Poe was heartbroken, traumatized, and broke. He had no way out and enlisted in the army in May of 1827. It was then that Poe published his first book, "Tamerlane and Other Poems" (1827). Poe moved in with his widowed aunt, Maria Clemm, and her teenage daughter, Virginia Eliza Clemm. He married Virginia Clemm before she was 14 years old. He earned respect as a critic and writer. In his essays "The Poetic Principle" and "The Philosophy of Composition," Poe came up with important literary theories. However, his career suffered from his compulsive behavior and from alcoholism. He did produce a steady flow of musical poems, such as "The Raven" (1845) and "The Bells" (1849). Some of his short stories included "Ligeia" (1838), "The Fall of the House of Usher"(1839) and "The Masque of the Red Death". One of Poe’s theories was creating "a certain unique or single effect". Poe invented the genre of the detective story. "The Murder in the Rue Morgue" (1841) is probably the first detective story ever published.Just when Poe’s life began to settle, Poe was destroyed by the death of his wife Virginia in 1847. Two years later he returned to Richmond and continued a relationship with his former fiance, Sarah Royster, who, by that time, was a widow. But shortly after their happy reunion he was found unconscious on a street in Baltimore. Poe was taken to the Washington College Hospital where Doctor John Moran diagnosed him with "lesions on the brain" and the doctor believed that he was mugged. He died 4 days later, briefly coming in and out of consciousness, in which he would whisper his last words, "Lord, help my poor soul." The real cause of his death is still unknown and his death certificate has disappeared. Poe's critic and personal enemy, n Rufus Griswold, published an insulting notice of his death. Later, he visited Poe's home and took away all of the writer's manuscripts (which he never returned), and published his "Memoir" of Poe, in which he faked a madman image of the writer.

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

Poe originally wrote this preface for his fourth and final collection of poetry, "The Raven and other Poems", published on November 19, 1845.

Virginia Clemm Poe

The Tell Tale Heart- Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe as he writes a poem.

Fun Facts: 1.Poe’s bizarre life didn’t stop just because he died in 1849. He was buried in an unmarked grave, and when gossip finally led to a stone being ordered, it was destroyed in a train accident.2.Ever since 1949, someone has left a bottle of cognac and some roses on Poe’s grave. Who is leaving these things? And why?3.In his first year of college at age 17, Edgar Allen Poe gambled away all of his scholarship aid, and often showed up in class drunk-even during exams. In spite of his careless behavior, Poe had the highest grades in his class. 4.Every woman that Poe loved died from tuberculosis, including his mother and his wife/cousin.

Famous Works:1.The Raven: In “The Raven”, the speaker, a man who longs for his deceased love, Lenore, has been visited by a talking bird who knows only the word, “Nevermore.” The narrator feels so grieved over the loss of his love that he allows his imagination to transform the bird into a prophet bringing news that the lovers will “Nevermore” be reunited, not even in heaven. 2.The Cask of Amontillado: In “The Cask of Amontillado”, the narrator in this story vows revenge upon a man named Fortunato. He takes advantage of Fortunato's ego and lures him down into the recesses of an underground vault to taste a rare wine, a cask of Amontillado. He traps him behind a wall and chains him there, Fortunato not being able to do anything because he is drunk, and leaves him there for eternity. 3.The Fall of the House of Usher: In “The Fall of the House of Usher”, the narrator receives a desperate letter from a "boyhood friend" requesting that he come to see him. The friend, a mister Roderick Usher, lives in a very old mansion out near a swamp. Once inside, the narrator finds more than he expected. It is a classic story of a creepy guy living in a haunted house.

Edgar Allan Poe’s inspiration to write came from experiences in his own life. Poe had a very depressing life with the people he loved dying and him becoming a gambler and a drunkard. Poe wrote from his heart and there was nothing happy in his heart for him to write about, so he wrote sad poems and stories based on his life instead.

Edgar Allan Poe wrote in the beginning of the 18th century. During this time period, Gothic had ceased to be the dominant genre. However, in many ways, it was now entering its more creative phase. Poe was an important and innovative reinterpreted of the Gothic time period because in his writing he explored the “terrors of the soul”.

Poe received one small award in his lifetime, a $50 prize for "MS. Found in a Bottle" awarded by the Baltimore Saturday Visiter in October, 1833. Literary awards were not common at that time.


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