Edgar Allan Poe Biography / Autobiography / Memoir resources

Full Name: Mr. Edgar Allan Poe
Date of Birth: January 19, 1809
Place of Birth: Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Died: October 7, 1849
Place of Death: Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Classification: Artists & Entertainers

BiographyShelf - Edgar Allan Poe

Short Biography of Edgar Allan Poe

The death of his parents, who were actors, could have been one of the factors that contributed to the macabre writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Ironically; however, it is their passing that gave Poe the opportunity to attend the prestigious Manor School at Stoke Newington in England from 1815 until 1820, paid for by his uncle John Allan. Here, he would have been exposed to the classics, and taught much about rhetoric and aesthetics that he came to write about and critique in his latter years.

Although not adopted by his uncle officially, Poe took his last name of “Allan”, which is often misspelled as the middle name “Allen”. Upon returning to the United States, Poe attended the University of Virginia for one year. In an attempt to get more spending money, Poe gambled away most of his tuition money that his uncle had provided him with. As a result, Poe was disowned and was forced to drop out from the university. Following, he joined the U.S. Army in an attempt to make a living and served for two years. During this time, he published his first book entitled Tamerlane and Other Poems. Upon admittance to West Point through his Uncle’s connections, Poe published another book called Al Aaraaf, and was deliberately discharged for not following orders.

In 1836, Edgar wed Virginia Eliza Clemm, who was 13 at the time and was his first cousin. Two years later, Poe released another tale called The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, which won him some national fame and allowed him to become the assistant and head editor of several prominent publications. In Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, published in 1839, Poe’s name was already well known.

Poe was always said to possess erratic behavior, mood swings, and dark gloom. While this isn’t quite accurate, many who read about his life or heard about him have been led partly astray with the publication of his biography by Rufus Griswold, which he called Poe’s “Memoirs”. Another, more accurate short biography of Edgar Allan Poe was released in 1875 by John Ingram, which is said to give an accurate portrayal of Poe according to those who actually knew him well.

It is known that Poe did become despaired when his wife, Virginia became ill with Tuberculosis, which led him to drinking and perhaps drug use. It is in this state that he published “The Raven” in the Evening Mirror journal. As his editorial duties ended due to the failing of the Broadway Journal, Poe’s wife also died, which led him to write the famed poem “Annabel Lee”.

Much about Poe’s death is a mystery. He died at the early age of 40 and was found in a stupor by a man who helped him to the hospital. Many reports say that he was not wearing his own clothes and that he was not drunk. Others speculate that he was showing signs of being affected by rabies. Still, other reports suggest that he had become delirious to do his drug use or even some sort of brain disease.

One aspect of Poe is certain. In his short literary lifetime, he changed American Romantic Literature. Much is documented about his sole invention of the American detective story and the short story.  He is also famed for his constant backing of “art for art’s sake”. His poems, critiques, writings, and short stories are not only remnants of American Literature at its finest, but also a detailing of one of the most passionately creative artists of all time.

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People interested in this biography of Edgar Allan Poe may also be interested in:

    • Arthur Gordon Pym
    • Sarah Helen
    • Sarah Elmira Royster
    • Rufus Griswold
    • John Ingram