Edgar Allan Poe was indisputably one of the most influential and revered writers in America back in the 19th century. He turned his writing talents into a career and became the first American author to make a living out of writing. He is popular for his short stories and poetry, especially the macabre and tales of mystery. He is recognized across the globe as an authority in the United States when it comes to romanticism and American literature. He was responsible for popularizing short stories and inventing detective fiction genre. He is also celebrated for his contributions towards the evolving science fiction genre. Poe drew inspiration from events that occurred around him to develop creative content.
Tell me about Edgar Allen Poe’s Early Life
Poe was born in Boston on January 19, 1809, to traveling actors, who died three years after his birth. A wealthy tobacco trader John Allan and Frances Valentine Allan, his wife, took in the three-year-old Poe to their home in Richmond, Virginia. Other families adopted his brother and sister. Mr. Allan raised Poe to be a successful merchant in Virginia, but Poe’s heart was in poetry, and he looked up to Lord Byron, a renowned British Poet. Interesting poems drafted by young Poe at the backs of various Allan’s ledger sheets demonstrate that Poe had little interest in the tobacco business.
Poe joined the well-known University of Virginia in 1826 and dropped out within a semester due to accumulated debt. The miserly Allan neglected his duty of ensuring Poe attained University education. Poe visited his fiancée, Elmira Royster, at her home and found out that she had moved on and was already living with another man.
Venturing into poetry
The heartbroken Poe’s relationship with Allan deteriorated within the few months that he stayed at Allan mansion. Poe moved out of the house to pursue his quest of becoming a prominent poet and finding adventure. Aged 18 years, Poe published his first book known as Tamerlane. Two years later, he joined the West Point-based United States Military Academy and continued with his passion for writing and publishing poetry. Poe was thrown out of West Point after just eight months.
Penniless and alone, Poe reached out to his relatives in Baltimore – the home of his late father. One of his aunts agreed to help him and accommodated him. John Allan passed on while Poe had relocated to Baltimore. Surprisingly, Allan left out Poe out of his will and transferred all his wealth to an illegitimate child whom he had never seen.
Poe earns an editorial position
Still broke and lonely, Poe began authoring and publishing interesting short stories. One of his short stories emerged the winner of a competition sponsored and organized by the Saturday Visiter. Poe leveraged the connections he had established via the competition to write and publish more wonderful stories. Eventually, he obtained an editorial post at the Richmond-based Southern Literary Messenger. Within just a year, Poe’s sensational stories and sarcastic book reviews had popularized the Messenger in the South.
At 27, Poe Married Virginia Clemm. Although the marriage was a happy one, money proved to be a problem. He relinquished his position at the Messenger and relocated to New York City citing low pay and poor editorial control. A year later, Poe moved to Philadelphia and wrote for a couple of distinct magazines. Despite his growing fame, he was still struggling to make ends meet. Upon receiving meager payments for the publication of Tales of the Grotesque, Poe started to advocate for international copyright law and higher wages for authors.
Poe became a household name in 1845 following the publication of “The Raven.” At this time, he was living in NYC, and he was attracting huge crowds to his lectures due to his fame. The same year, Poe published two books and achieved his dream of managing his own magazine after acquiring the Broadway Journal. However, the magazine failed a year later.
Joseph W. Walker found Poe in great distress on the Baltimore’s streets on October 3, 1849. He took him to the Washington Medical College where he passed on October 7, 1849.
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