Edgar Allen Poe was born on January 19, 1809 to a married couple of traveling actors in Boston. Soon after his birth both of his parents passed away.
Before reading this we must cast away our preconceived notions of the life of Poe. For many years it was taught that Poe was an alcoholic, a drug addict and a madman. The thought being that could some one write such bizarre works like the Tell Tale Heart or The Fall of The House of Usher, without having something wrong with him? But none of this was the truth.
Poe’s original biographer Rufus Griswold, which honestly sounds like a name right out of Harry Potter, was someone who disliked Poe intensely. In order to get revenge on Poe and hopefully destroy the man after his death he wrote a biography filled with lies. His plan back fired on him however because after Griswold’s book was published the sales of Poe’s works rose.
The problem was that people believed the biography and so real truth about the man has only recently come to light.
After Poe’s parents died his family was split up. He was adopted by the John Allen, a tobacco merchant and his wife Frances. Poe moved to Richmond Virginia where he would grow up. John Allen wanted Poe to follow him in the tobacco business but Poe was not interested at all. There are ledgers from the company that have scraps of Poe’s early poetry written in them.
Poe would go on to be educated at The University of Virginia and then West Point he did not do well at either school. He had a falling out with his foster father and Poe then decided to make a break. He moved out of the house and began working for Southern Magazines. He was very successful but did not enjoy the restraints that were put on him and soon moved to New York.
Edgar Allen Poe was not at this time writing the fiction and poetry he is well known for today. He was writing essays and doing reviews and was considered to be a very good critic because not only did he criticize the work, he criticized the author as well.
His success, however, was all in the south. When he finally moved to New York City he arrived during one of the worst financial times in the U.S.A., known as “The Panic Of 1837.” Poe could not find work but he did write his first and only novel there called The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.
In 1838 Poe moved to Philadelphia where he became quite a success. He wrote for and edited several different magazines as well as publishing his first book of short stories. However the times being what they were, writers at that period of history were not paid very much and Poe, though popular, was still living in poverty.
Poe again moved to New York City in 1844 It is not recorded if Poe ever met PT Barnum, but on arriving in New York Poe pulled a stunt at least as good as anything Barnum ever did. He began to write a series of stories of a balloon trip across the ocean. People grabbed at everything Poe wrote about the trip. That is until Poe confessed it was all a hoax.
In January of 1845 Poe wrote the poem that would give him worldwide fame as well as financial Success. The poem was entitled The Raven and It turned the author’s life around. He could demand better pay for his work and would soon begin traveling the country giving lectures. It was during this time that Poe’s young wife died. He grieved deeply for her and wrote nothing for a solid year. His friends feared for his life, but he did rally himself and began lecturing again.
It was in Baltimore in the year of 1849 that Poe disappeared for five days. He was found in a bar that was being used as a polling place for a local election. Poe was taken to Washington College Hospital where he spent the last days of his life. Edgar Allen Poe died on October 7, 1849. His friends and family would only hear about his death later, in the newspaper. The cause of Poe’s death is unknown.
Edgar Allen Poe gave us many of our most popular horror stories, The Tell Tale Heart, Murder in the Rue Morgue, The Purloined Letter, The Cask of Amontillado and many others. He is also known as the father of the modern detective story. It is sad that for so many years a good man’s life was slandered. It is good; however, that now we have the truth about a man who gave us so much in a very short life.