Learn All about Edgar Allan Poe

June 25, 2019
People say many things about the life of Edgar Allan Poe. Some people believe that he was a perverse man with many vices. Learn all about him here!

Edgar Allan Poe is one of the greatest literary geniuses the world over. There are many legends about his unusual life that sometimes overshadow the value of his writing. Poe was an extraordinary storyteller, gifted with infinite creativity.

The world of mystery and horror literature changed completely after Edgar Allan Poe. People consider this great American author the inventor of the detective genre. He also revived gothic literature and incorporated a psychological component to the horror genre.

“I have no faith in human perfectibility. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity.”

-Edgar Allan Poe-

Poe lived many difficult and tragic experiences. Some critics did their best to portray him as a chaotic and depraved person, and they were successful to a certain extent. However, although Poe wasn’t a model of prudence and caution, neither was he the monster that his enemies made him out to be.

Edgar Allan Poe's name carved in stone.

Edgar Allan Poe’s Difficult Childhood

Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 19th, 1809. His parents were traveling theater actors. Poe had two siblings. His parents died when he was barely two years old. Thus, he and his siblings were adopted by different families.

Poe ended up in the family of a man named John Allan. Allan was a wealthy businessman who adopted Poe as a charitable act. The death of his adoptive mother and the difficult relationship with his adoptive father were two recurring themes in his work.

Poe lived with his adoptive family in England and Scotland. It seems like his life in these countries had the gothic air about them that is so characteristic of his work. Eventually, they went back to the United States, where Poe went to the best schools.

A Turbulent Youth

Edgar Allan Poe wrote his first work at the age of 14. That was when he fell madly in love with his friend’s mother. He was dealing with this unrequited love when she died suddenly.

When he was young, Poe was a great athlete and loved astronomy. He decided to study languages at the University of Virginia. There, Poe fell into the gambling and drinking crowd and was eventually expelled. His adoptive father hired him as an employee in one of his businesses, but that didn’t last long.

In 1827, he secretly published his first book called Tamerlane and Other Poems. Later, he enlisted in the army, where he stayed for two years. After that, his adoptive father helped him get a new job, but he was fired shortly after. During that time, he published two more books of poems. In 1832, he went to live in Baltimore and married his 13-year-old cousin.

A “Cursed” Writer

Poe’s adoptive parents eventually disinherited him. To survive, he started working in several newspapers as an art critic and reporter. His sharp and elegant style gave him certain notoriety. While he worked, he kept publishing his works. The Gold-Bug and The Raven and Other Stories consecrated him as a writer.

His young wife died of tuberculosis in 1847. Her terrible illness drove Poe to drink and consume drugs. People say that after her death he even started to take laudanum, a very strong opioid. He also started to suffer from various health problems.

Poe was desperate and anxious to find a new wife. He jumped from relationship to relationship without settling down. People say that he tried to commit suicide with laudanum.

A cartoon image of Edgar Allan Poe.

The End of His Life

Towards the end of his life, he reconnected with a past love, Sarah Elmira Royster. They decided to get married on September 17th, 1849. However, shortly after they got engaged, Poe mysteriously disappeared.

They found him on the street on October 3rd, very confused and wearing someone else’s clothes. One of his friends took him to the hospital, where he died on October 7th. No one ever found out what happened to him when he disappeared.

His autopsy results also disappeared, and to this day no one knows the exact cause of his death. It’s safe to say that Poe’s work influenced all the great writers who came after him. His writing is moving, powerful, and deep.

  • Lanero, J. J., CSantoyo, J., & Villoría, S. (1993). 50 años de traductores, críticos e imitadores de Edgar Allan Poe (1857-1913). Livius, 3, 159-184.