Edgar Allan Poe

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Edgar Allan Poe Biography

Writer (1809-1849)


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.

Early Life

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.

Career Beginnings

At first, Poe seemed to be harboring twin aspirations. Poe published his first book, Tamerlane and Other...