Edgar Allen Poe

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The life that Poe experienced was reflected in his writing. Beginning with early childhood, when he lost his parents, Poe was subjected to a difficult life that would later have a major effect on his work. Among his foster father, John Allan, his first love, Sarah Elmira Royster, and his young first wife, Virginia Clemm, his contacts largely defined his works. Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809, to two small-theater actors, Elizabeth and David Poe. When his father died at the age of thirty-six, his mother, who was still acting, would have Edgar and his sister, Rosalie, sleep backstage.

On December 11, 1811, at only twenty-four, his mother died of tuberculosis (Poe 409), and he and his sister were orphaned. His sister was sent to live with a Mrs. Mackenzie and Edgar, to John and Frances Allan, whose marriage had been childless. Poe was never adopted but they took care of him (Poe 410).

William, Edgar's older brother, had been living with the grandfather, David Poe, Sr., because at the time of his birth, his parents did not have the money to care for him. Edgar moved to Richmond, Virginia, with the Allans, where he slept in his own bedroom in the apartment above his stepfather's store. Edgar never got along with his foster father, argued with him, and hardly showed any affection. John Allan once even described his son as "sulky, miserable, and ill-tempered" (Malone 19).

In 1825, he became secretly engaged to fifteen-year-old Sarah Elmira Royster. Her father found out however, and finding Poe unsuitable for a son-in-law, she was forced to break off the relationship. She wed a successful businessman instead (Sova 214).

Poe entered the University of Virginia in the spring of 1826. He studied many languages including Italian, French, Latin, and Spanish...