The life and experiences of Edgar Allen Poe.

Essay by ashmegkate November 2002

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Edgar Allen Poe was one of the most influential poets of his time. He was both an editor and critic, although only a small amount of people enjoyed his work. He not only pioneered a new sense of reality, but also helped to transform the short story from anecdote to art. His life and criticism of his works helped him to have a worldwide influence on literature.

Early Life

Edgar Allen Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 19, 1809. He was the son of two touring actors, Elizabeth Arnold Poe, and David Poe Jr. Both, however, died before he turned three years old. After their deaths, he was taken to the home of John and Frances Allan, a childless couple living in Virginia. John Allan was a strong believer in education, and, while taking an extended business trip to England, enrolled Poe at prestigious boarding academies. It was there that Poe first became interested in popular European Gothic literature.

When Poe and his new family returned to Virginia in 1826, he enrolled in the newly opened University of Virginia. It was there that he studied classical and modern languages, including Latin. However, after receiving very little allowance from John Allan, Poe turned to gambling to help supplement his income. In a matter of eight months, he had lost nearly $2000. Allan refused to help him with his debts, which led him to estrangement from his family. In March of the next year, Poe left home to live on his own.

Joining the Army

After moving to Baltimore and then back to Boston, he decided to sign up for a five-year enlistment in the U.S. Army. That same year, he managed to publish Tamerlane and Other Poems, but the book failed to attract notice from the public. Two...