Edgar Allan Poe: A Man of Mystery

Revolutionizing tales of suspense and horror, Edgar Allan Poe is considered one of the most influential American writers of all time. Like many authors that we’ve done spotlights on, Poe’s stories have changed the way we view a specific genre. Known for his poems The Raven, A Dream Within a Dream, and stories such as The Fall of the House of Usher, and The Tell-Tale Heart. These are just a few of his well known works, but he has written many pieces that are still loved today.

Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19th, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts. Edgar was the second child to Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe and and David Poe Jr. His parents were both actors until tragedy struck the Poe family when Edgar was just a small child. In 1810 David Poe abandoned his wife and children. A year later Elizabeth Poe passed away from consumption. Taken in by John Allan and his family, the Allan’s gave Edgar a new name, Edgar Allan Poe. Although the family never formally adopted Edgar, they took him in and baptized the young boy in 1812.

Over the years Poe struggled to bond with his new family, particularly John. In 1826 Edgar began attending the University of Virginia until he fell into a pit of debt. As it is with many, money was a sore subject between the two family members. John Allan refused to cover all of Poe’s tuition money, forcing Edgar into a life of gambling. In an attempt to cover his tuition costs, Poe grew more and more in debt and was eventually forced to return home. Unfortunately, luck was not on Edgar’s side, Poe returned home only to find that his fiancé Elmira Royster was engaged to another man.

Heartbroken, Poe fled from his home and joined the United States Army in 1827. Poe enlisted under a different name and even lied about his age just so he could earn enough money to support himself. The same year he also published his first book titled, Tamerlane and Other Poems. Two years later Poe published another collection of poems titled Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems. 

Studying at West Point Military Academy, Poe excelled with his studies. Unfortunately, due to handling his duties poorly, he was kicked out after a year. Edgar had cut off all communication with the Allan family by the time he’d left the academy. Once out, he began focusing on his writing and moved to Baltimore in 1831. While living with his aunt, Maria Clemm, Poe fell in love with her daughter Virginia. The two were married in 1836 when Virginia was only 13 or 14 years old.

After the couple was married, Virginia and Edgar left for Richmond where Poe began working for the Southern Literary Messenger. Edgar Allan Poe was known for his cut throat reviews while he worked at the magazine. He even had a couple of his own pieces published. Poe worked for this particular magazine for while until he began to clash with others, he left in 1837. During his lifetime he worked for two other literary magazines, The Broadway Journal and Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine.

As bad luck seems to follow many prolific authors, Edgar is no exception. In 1842, his wife Virginia began showing signs of consumption. During this time, Edgar began drinking heavily and attempting to alienate himself. During Virginia’s illness Poe was working for the Broadway Journal and continuing his personal writing. Despite his wife’s illness, Poe continued to pursue his passion, which paid off. In January 1845, The Raven was published in a popular magazine called the Evening Mirror. The poem was an instant success, making Edgar Allan Poe a household name. Although the poem was a raging success, Poe was only paid $9 dollars for his work.

A few years later Virginia passed away, leaving behind Edgar. Virginia’s death left Poe unstable, forcing him to resort to alcohol more consistently. Edgar eventually returned to Richmond where he began a relationship with his first fiancé, Elmira Royster.

As the alcohol continued to consume Poe, he began acting strange in public places. In Baltimore on October 3rd, 1849 the author was found walking through the streets, delirious and distressed. Poe was immediately taken to the Washington Medical College where he later died. On October 7th, 1849 Edgar Allan Poe passed away. Sources say that Poe was never coherent enough to explain how he’d ended up in the state he was in. Poe’s death was diagnosed as “congestion of the brain,” but cause of death still remains a mystery. The last words the author ever uttered were “Lord, help why poor soul.”

Edgar Allan Poe never gained any financial success as a writer, but his name lived on. One of the few writers to have their work remain relevant today, Edgar Allan Poe is considered one of America’s greatest writers.