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American writer, critic and editor Edgar Allan Poe is famous for his tales and poems of horror and mystery, including The Raven.
Edgar Allan Poe - Full Episode (43:34)
Watch a short video about Edgar Allan Poe to find out how the tragic losses in his life may have contributed to his transformation into one of the most popular authors in history.
Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Raven" is one of the most famous poems ever written in English. His dark writing, coupled with his mysterious death, has made him one of the most famous macabre figures in history.
The full biography of Edgar Allan Poe.
Edgar Allan Poe, writer and editor, was haunted by his past as an orphan and a life alone which led him to alcohol abuse, madness, and self-destruction.
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Born January 19, 1809, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. American short-story writer, poet, critic, and editor Edgar Allan Poe's tales of mystery and horror initiated the modern detective story, and the atmosphere in his tales of horror is unrivaled in American fiction. His The Raven (1845) numbers among the best-known poems in national literature.
"The death of a beautiful woman is unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world."
With his short stories and poems, Edgar Allan Poe captured the imagination and interest of readers around the world. His creative talents led to the beginning of different literary genres, earning him the nickname "Father of the Detective Story" among other distinctions. His life, however, has become a bit of mystery itself. And the lines between fact and fiction have been blurred substantially since his death.
The son of actors, Poe never really knew his parents. His father left the family early on, and his mother passed away when he was only three. Separated from his siblings, Poe went to live with John and Frances Allan, a successful tobacco merchant and his wife, in Richmond, Virginia. He and Frances seemed to form a bond, but he never quite meshed with John. Preferring poetry over profits, Poe reportedly wrote poems on the back of some of Allan's business papers.
Money was also an issue between Poe and John Allan. When Poe went to the University of Virginia in 1826, he didn't receive enough funds from Allan to cover all his costs. Poe turned to gambling to cover the difference, but ended up in debt. He returned home only to face another personal setback—his neighbor and fiancée Elmira Royster had become engaged to someone else. Heartbroken and frustrated, Poe left the Allans.
At first, Poe seemed to be harboring twin aspirations. Poe published his first book, Tamerlane and Other Poems in 1827, and he had joined the army around this time. Poe wanted to go to West Point, a military academy, and won a spot there in 1830. Before going to West Point, he published a second collection Al Aaraaf, Tamberlane, and Minor Poems in 1829. Poe excelled at his studies at West Point, but he was kicked out after a year for his poor handling of his duties. Some have speculated that he intentionally sought to be court-martialed. During his time at West Point, Poe had fought with his foster father and Allan decided to sever ties with him.
After leaving the academy, Poe focused his writing full time. He moved around in search of opportunity, living in New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Richmond. From 1831 to 1835, he stayed in Baltimore with his aunt Maria Clemm and her daughter Virginia. His young cousin, Virginia, became a literary inspiration to Poe as well as his love interest. The couple married in 1836 when she was only 13 (or 14 as some sources say) years old.
Returning to Richmond in 1835, Poe went to work for a magazine called the Southern Literary Messenger. There he developed a reputation as a cut-throat critic, writing vicious reviews of his contemporaries. Poe also published some of his own works in the magazine, including two parts of his only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.
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