Edgar Allan Poe
Place of Birth: Massachusetts
Edgar Allan Poe is considered to be one of the most controversial and talented American writer, poet, and critic. His unusual tales and stories were dark and mysterious and included such works as “The Fall of the House of Usher, The Tell-Tale Heart, and The Raven.” No other writer of the 19th century was creating the kind of works as Poe and he continues to be an enigma to this day.
- Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1809 to an actor father who abandoned the family early and a British actress mother who died from tuberculosis when he was only three years old. He and his siblings were forced to live with foster parents.
- When Poe was 13 he began to be interested in writing poems and stories but his foster father wanted him to focus on more lucrative things such as the family business. Poe went to the University of Virginia in 1826 and he did very well in his studies. Even though Poe was excelling, his foster father refused to financially help him so Poe tried gambling to make money and instead ended up in debt.
- When Poe had left for school he had also left his fiancée with the hopes that they could marry when he got back. When Poe found out that she was engaged to someone else he moved to Boston in frustration and sadness. By 1827 Poe joined the U.S. Army and he was given an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Poe did exceptionally well there and it was then that he published his first book “Tamerlane.”
- Once he was done at West Point Poe did a lot of traveling to see if he could find opportunities. He went to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Richmond, and during his time of travel his foster father died leaving him entirely out of his will. By this time Poe was destitute and having no money he entered and won a contest for one of his short stories.
- He was hired by the Southern Literary Messenger as an editor in 1835 and because his reviews were so harsh he earned a nickname of “Tomahawk Man.” He spent two years at the publication and then left when his relationship with them became tense. He continued to write and found his way to working with other publications such as Graham’s Magazine, Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, Alexander’s Weekly Messenger, and The Broadway Journal.
- Poe struggled to get his unusual style of writing recognized but it finally happened in 1845 when he published “The Raven” in the New York Evening Mirror. He became an overnight success with this poem about loss and death. It is considered to be one of his greatest’s work even today.
- Even as Poe was being proclaimed a literary hero he was criticized by some of his fellow writers. One that was well-known at the time was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Longfellow was one of his worst critics. Poe didn’t take criticism well and he accused Longfellow of being a plagiarist.
- Poe may have been popular at the time but his financial situation continued to get worse. He became a voice for other writers for better pay and some form of international copyrighting laws. By this time the list of Poe’s works was extensive and many short stories and poems were well received. His works included such classics as: The Raven, The Black Cat, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Golden Bug, and a collection of stories called the “Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, which included The Fall of the House of Usher”
- In 1849 Poe headed for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was found in Baltimore and rushed to the hospital where he died. Having no money he was buried in an unmarked grave and many years later students and teachers raised money to place a monument at his grave.
- Poe’s style has influenced writers and thinkers to extend their imaginations. His works continue to be some of the most innovative and compelling today.
What military school did Edgar Allan Poe attend?
U.S. Military Academy at West Point
What was the nickname given to Poe during his time as a critic for the Southern Literary Messenger?
What was Poe’s first book that was published?
Which famous poet was a top critic of Edgar Allan Poe?
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
What story launched Edgar Allan Poe’s fame as a writer?
What did Poe turn to for a way to help pay for his education when his stepfather refused?