Edgar Allan Poe Biography

by Marion Phillips - July 5, 2003

edgar allan poePoe was a man with a life of tragedy on his back, who worked a lot to get the little he had and was a genius who used his general dark mood to make dozens of masterpieces that helped create the Gothic genre of literature.

A Survivor of  Disaster

His life started in Boston, USA in 1809 and at age 2 he was orphan because his poor acting parents died in a fire that happened in the local theater. Then he was adopted by a Scottish businessman who was surnamed Allan, thus becoming Edgar Allan Poe.

Some time later, around 1816, the family moved to UK where he studied first in Glasgow and then in London. Back in USA in 1820, they went to live in Richmond, and three years later he was writing his first poems at school.

Poe's experience with alcohol started when he went to study in the University of Virginia in 1826. Then in 1829 he published his first book named "Tamerlaine and other poems" and quit university, joining the West Point academy. 

Heading for Success and Deceit

By this time his stepmother had died and he went to live with an aunt. But things weren't well for him, due to his undisciplined attitudes and he was expelled from the academy. That was when Poe had to look for a job, and moving to Baltimore with his aunt and her daughter, he started to work to newspapers.

Around 1835, he had already published several books and earned a prize for his "Manuscript Found In a Bottle" from the Saturday Visitor newspaper. Also in that year he got married with his 13 years-old cousin, who had a very frail health.

the fall of the house of UsherIn the next years Poe climbed the success stairs as a writer and journalist, working in Richmond and New York, but at home his wife was very ill and he was suffering from dipsomania

His breakthrough as a letters-man happened in 1845 when New York's Evening Mirror published his poem "The Raven", which made him famous and invited to the most important literary salons of the city.

But still Poe had serious problems with alcohol and gambling that diminished his sparse money. Two years later his young wife died in Fordham, making him sink in alcohol and even more gambling, and in order to survive he became a kind of Don Juan of elderly woman.


Poe was extremely unhappy, unable of working properly because of his drinking, and in 1848 he attempted suicide. Although he survived this attempt, he only lived one year more and died in Baltimore, his body being found by a gutter. 

Post Mortem Life

What can be the explanation of why the life of such a genius was such a tragedy? Poe seemed to be more a lightning rod for bad luck than anything else! And this is very sad. When reading about his life, one understands why all of his stories and poems were so dark and always had a certain kind of hopelessness to them, a kind of anguish.

Poe was a man that could have lived far more and better if he only could calm the demons inside him and quit his bad habits of drinking and playing cards. His talents would have earned him a safe place in the world, the same way they gave him status and success.

A few years before Poe's death his works were published in Europe and the poet Baudelaire got so very fascinated with them that he decided not only to translate a few of them at the time, but became the best propagandist of his name in the continent.

In later years, this fascination of the European public for his tales came back to USA and its echoes last up to this day. Poe's books are already translated in many languages, several movies were made based on them and writers worldwide are inspired by his writing. 
May for him never exist a "nevermore" time! 

Download Poe's works now! (ZIP file size: 50 kb) 

Contents:

- Poems: Ulalume, The Raven

- Stories: The pit and the pendulum, The black cat, The fall of the house of Usher

If you want to know more about Poe:

Poemuseum.org

Edgar Allan Poe's House of Usher

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Copyright 2003 Marion Phillips

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