Edgar Allan Poe

Born: 19-01-1809, Boston (Massachusetts, US)
Died: 07-10-1849, Baltimore (Maryland, US)

Biography

Edgar Allan Poe was born as son of Eliza Poe and David Poe Jr. His parents were actors, who travelled from city to city. They died, when he was three years old. He was raised by John Allan, a successful businessman from Richmond (Virginia, US), but was never adopted. He did however use Allan as his second name.

Poe was educated in England between 1815 and 1820. In 1826, he was admitted to the University of Virginia. During this period, he lost the will to study and fled into alcohol and gambling. Eventually he was sent away from this university, because he could not afford his debts. He ran away from home and registered at the military academy West Point. He was also sent away, this time because of his absence. He spend some time with his grandmother, aunt and his niece in Baltimore. In 1836, he married Virginia Clemm, who was his niece. He started writing and worked as an editor and critic. His stories weren’t that popular until he published the poem The Raven.

The Raven is one of his masterpieces, but this poem did not give him the financial breakthrough he hoped for. The poem was copied without consent and this left him without any payment. Read more in our analysis of this poem. He considered the poem The Sleeper his best poem.

In 1845, his wife died of tuberculosis. After her death, Poe fought against alcohol and drugs. In 1848, he tried to commit suicide, but failed. A year later, he was found after he had been missing for three days. He was severely ill and a few days later, he died. Until today, it is unclear what had happened to him. He was not able to answer questions about his disappearance and why he wasn’t wearing his own clothes. According to the American author Matthew Pearl, Poe may have suffered a brain tumour.

Poe as a writer

Edgar Allan Poe still has a large scale of fans today. During his life, he was more popular abroad, than in the United States. His writing style is considered as scary, dark or somewhat like a nightmare. He had a great impact on other writings. Amongst his fans was no one other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The hound of the Baskervilles, was greatly inspired by the writings of Poe.

There was a good reason, that Poe was more popular abroad: his dark style poetry wasn’t the most successful genre American poets or writers used at the time in the United States.

Poe as a writer was probably one of the first of his time, to make a full-time career based on writing. That is also the reason, why his financial success was a complete fiasco. His debts were enormous, but they were also caused by his addictions. Most of his adult life, he lived in poverty. But he was always dedicated to his writings.

 

Poems written by Edgar Allan Poe on this website