Edgar Allen Poe

Essay by Roy TousignantJunior High, 9th grade February 1996

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Edgar Allen Poe

Edgar Allen Poe, the greatest American teller of mystery and suspense tales in the

19th century was a tormented artist. He struggled to become the accomplished author he is

known as today. Poe is now acclaimed as one of America's greatest writers, but in his own

unhappy lifetime, he struggled to make ends meet.

When he was 17, Poe entered the University of Virginia. Allan, his step father,

gave Poe only a small allowance, and the young man soon began owing money. He

gambled and ran into greater debt. By the end of the year he owed 2,500 dollars. He was

nervous and unstable, and he began to drink. Despite his frequenting liquor, he could

never hold it well. He would easily become ill from the alcohol. Allan angrily withdrew

Poe from school, and a few months later Poe left home.

For the next four years Poe struggled to earn a living as a writer.

He returned to

Mrs. Clemm's home and submitted stories to magazines. His first success came in 1833,

when he entered a short-story contest and won a prize of 50 dollars for the story 'MS.

Found in a Bottle.' By 1835 he was the editor of the Southern Literary Messenger. He

married his cousin Virginia, who was only 13, and Mrs. Clemm stayed with the couple.

The Poes had no children.

This success would not last. Poe's stories, poems, and criticism in the magazine,

The Southern Literary Messenger soon attracted attention, and he looked for wider

opportunities, not a good choice. From 1837 to 1839 he tried free-lance writing in New

York City and Philadelphia but earned very little. Again he tried editing. His work was

praised, but he was still paid little. His efforts to organize his own magazine were...