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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.
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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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His tenure there proved short, however. Poe's aggressive-reviewing style and sometimes combative personality strained his relationship with the publication, and he left the magazine in 1837. His problems with alcohol also played a role in his departure, according to some reports. Poe went on to brief stints at two other papers, Burton's Gentleman's Magazine and The Broadway Journal.
In late 1830s, Poe published Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, a collection of stories. It contained several of his most spine-tingling tales, including "The Fall of the House of Usher," "Ligeia" and "William Wilson." Poe launched the new genre of detective fiction with 1841's "The Murders in the Rue Morgue." A writer on the rise, he won a literary prize in 1843 for "The Gold Bug," a suspenseful tale of secret codes and hunting treasure.
Poe became a literary sensation in 1845 with the publication of the poem "The Raven." It is considered a great American literary work and one of the best of Poe's career. In the work, Poe explored some of his common themes—death and loss. An unknown narrator laments the demise of his great love Lenore. That same year, he found himself under attack for his stinging criticisms of his fellow poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Poe claimed that Longfellow, a widely popular literary figure, was a plagiarist, and this written assault on Longfellow created a bit of backlash for Poe.
Continuing work in different forms, Poe examined his own methodology and writing in general in several essays, including "The Philosophy of Composition," "The Poetic Principle" and "The Rationale of Verse." He also produced another thrilling tale, "The Cask of Amontillado," and poems such as "Ulalume" and "The Bells."
Poe was overcome by grief after the death of his beloved Virginia in 1847. While he continued to work, he suffered from poor health and struggled financially. His final days remain somewhat of a mystery. He left Richmond on September 27, 1849, and was supposedly on his way to Philadelphia. On October 3, Poe was found in Baltimore in great distress. He was taken to Washington College Hospital where he died on October 7. His last words were "Lord, help my poor soul."
At the time, it was said that Poe died of "congestion of the brain." But his actual cause of death has been the subject of endless speculation. Some experts believe that alcoholism led to his demise while others offer up alternative theories. Rabies, epilepsy, carbon monoxide poisoning are just some of the conditions thought to have led to the great writer's death.
Shortly after his passing, Poe's reputation was badly damaged by his literary adversary Rufus Griswold. Griswold, who had been sharply criticized by Poe, took his revenge in his obituary of Poe, portraying the gifted yet troubled writer as a mentally deranged drunkard and womanizer. He also penned the first biography of Poe, which helped cement some of these misconceptions in the public's minds.
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Meet legendary writers of the horror genre whose vivid descriptions have have kept us on the edge of our seats, chapter after chapter. Some of their most gruesome creations and plot devices, from blood-sucking creatures of the night to the demons trapped within our own minds, continue to live on in the imaginations of readers. Explore Biography.com's list of "fright writers," including "Master of Suspense" Alfred Hitchcock, Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Washington Irving and many more.
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