Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts in the United States of America on January 19, 1809. He was the son of professional actors David and Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe. His father left the family shortly after his birth, while his mother, Elizabeth died a year later. He was just three at that time. John Allan and Frances Allan, who gave him their family name and raised him in Richmond without any process of formal adoption.
John Allan took great care of his Edgar Allan Poe’s education and sent him to the best schools. Later, he got admission in the University of Virginia where Poe won great honors for himself. However, he fell into gambling and brought debts for his foster father. John refused to pay for him after which Poe had to leave his education. When he returned to Richmond, John Allan almost left him high and dry due to his fury over Poe’s gambling.
Married Life and Tragedy
He soon joined his aunt Maria Clemm in Maryland. They went to Richmond where he joined the publishing industry. Soon he married his young cousin, Virginia, in 1835 and succeeded in establishing his career as a writer. At first, Poe had very little success in writing. Later to his dismay, he found his wife suffering from tuberculosis. She died in 1847, leaving Poe to defend the onslaughts of acute depression, from which he never recovered.
Despite moving to Richmond and later Baltimore, he could not overcome depression and failed to cope with the loss after his wife’s death. He was found unconscious in 1849 in Baltimore and died four days later on October 07, 1849. Doctors suggested that he might have lost his life due to rabies.
Some Important Facts of His Life
- He is buried in Westminster Presbyterian Graveyard in the State of Baltimore.
- Poe receives the second funeral 160 years after his death at Baltimore with 700 guests.
- Rufus Wilmot Griswold has written Poe’s obituary with a fake name “Ludwig”.
- Edgar Allan Poem Museum has been set up in Richmond in his memory.
Faced with acute poverty and a shortage of money, he joined the US army after moving to Boston. It was the year of 1827 and just two years after that, he started writing poems and published his first collection Tamerlane and Other Poems in 1829 and later published another collection Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems. However, he was disheartened over not meeting any critical reception in the literary circles. After leaving the US army, he joined the military academy but left it for good. Soon, he started his editing career with the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond. He did not stop there. He joined various other journals as an editor. Some of them include Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine and Graham’s Magazine. Later, he joined the Broadway Journal and became a good story writer. Until then, he established himself as an excellent short story writer and has written well-known stories such as “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Later, he turned to poetry and the publication of “The Raven.”
After establishing his career first as an editor and then as a critic, poet, and short story writer, Edgar Allan Poe could not earn enough to live a comfortable life. He became prominent due to his analytical method of creating gothic stories. However, he formed a distinct style on account of his terror-filled type of detective and horror short fiction. Various critics have termed him a modern short story writer, while some have seen him part of the movement writing “art for art’s sake.” Some French critics have termed his style as a precursor of the detective fiction. Most of his stories have first-person narratives with a compelling atmosphere in which they act and comprise mentally weak but seemingly stable characters. Although various critics have termed Poe, a Gothic writer, yet various others have called him the father of horror literature. The recurring themes of most of his poems and short stories are always death. He has also written about other things but that is satirical and often exaggerates things to the point of irony. Regarding literary devices, he often turns to hyperboles, heavy diction and repetition to make the tones of his stories,
- Best Poems: Edgar Allan Poe has tried his hands in both poetry as well as short fiction. Some of his best poems include “Annabel Lee”, “The City in the Sea”, “Eldorado”, “To Helen”, “The Haunted Palace”, “Tamerlane”, “Ulalume” and “A Dream Within a Dream.”
- Best Short Stories: Some of the best stories or tales that he has written include “The Black Cat”, “The Masque of the Red Death”, “The Pit and the Pendulum”, “The Tell-Tale Heart”, “Hop-Frog” and “The Fall of the House of Usher.” There are several other stories too.
- Other Notable Works: Besides these, he has also written a play, Politian, a novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, and some essays including “The Poetic Principle” and “Eureka: A Prose Poem.”
Poe’s Impacts on Future Literature
Edgar Allan Poe has left deep imprints on the American as well as international literature. In fact, writers who write in Gothic, detective or horror tradition, take inspiration from Poe and his style of creating suspense in their storyline. He is credited with starting the movement in which a literary piece is written for the sake of art. Nearly every other American writer writing in detective or horror style, such as Clive Barker or Stephen King, have followed his footsteps. The genre of horror fiction owes a great deal to Poe for its popularity. Even in criticism, he has been ranked as the one who has focused on structure and effects of style on the fiction.
Edgar Allan Poe’s Famous Quotes
- “I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” (A Terrible Evil, A Letter)
- “We loved with a love that was more than love.” (Annabel Lee)
- “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” (A Dream within a Dream)
- “Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.” (Eleonora)