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Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

Only The Greats: Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

Edgar Allan Poe was an American author, poet, and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. He was born on January 19, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts and died on October 7, 1849 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Poe is known for his macabre and mysterious stories and poems, which have had a significant influence on the genre of detective fiction and the modern horror story. He is also considered the inventor of the detective-fiction genre and is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction.

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Early Life of Edgar Allen Poe

Poe was born to actors David and Elizabeth Poe. His father abandoned the family and his mother died of tuberculosis when he was three years old. Poe was taken in by the Allan family, a wealthy merchant family in Richmond, Virginia. He was raised by John Allan and his wife Frances Valentine Allan, who never formally adopted him but gave him the name “Edgar Allan Poe.” Poe attended the University of Virginia but was forced to leave due to lack of funds.

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)


In 1827, Edgar Allan Poe enlisted in the United States Army and later attended West Point Military Academy, but he was discharged for disciplinary reasons. He then turned to writing as a profession. His first book, “Tamerlane and Other Poems,” was published in 1827 and received little attention. Poe’s first successful story, “MS Found in a Bottle,” was published in 1833 and won a literary prize.

Poe’s most famous works include the poem “The Raven” (1845), and the short stories “The Tell-Tale Heart” (1843), “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839) and “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (1841), which is considered the first detective story. Poe’s stories and poems often dealt with themes of death, the macabre, and the supernatural, and many of his characters were haunted by their pasts. Poe’s writing style was also characterized by his use of vivid and detailed descriptions, as well as his use of irony and symbolism.

Edgar Allan Poe also worked as a literary critic, writing reviews and essays on the works of other authors. He was known for his acerbic criticism and his ability to identify literary trends and anticipate literary movements. Poe also edited several literary magazines, including “The Southern Literary Messenger” and “Graham’s Magazine.”

Edgar's Legacy

Poe’s influence on literature and popular culture has been significant and enduring. His stories and poems have been adapted into film, television, and stage productions, and his characters, such as the detective C. Auguste Dupin and the narrator of “The Tell-Tale Heart,” have become literary icons. Poe’s writing style, characterized by his use of vivid and detailed descriptions, irony, and symbolism, has been imitated by many writers and continues to inspire writers today.

Poe’s influence on the genre of detective fiction and the modern horror story is undeniable, and his writing has been cited as an inspiration by many famous writers such as H. P. Lovecraft, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Jorge Luis Borges. Poe’s work and life have also been the subject of numerous biographies, documentaries, and scholarly works.

Conclusion to the Life of Edgar

Edgar Allan Poe was a pioneering figure in American literature, known for his macabre and mysterious stories and poems that have had a lasting impact on the genre of detective fiction and the modern horror story. His writing style and use of vivid, detailed descriptions, irony, and symbolism continue to inspire writers today. Poe’s legacy will continue to be celebrated and his influence on literature will always be remembered.

10 Creative Questions About Edgar Allan Poe

It is unclear what the cause of death was for Edgar Allan Poe. The exact circumstances surrounding it are unknown. He was found unconscious on a Baltimore street on October 3, 1849, and died four days later. Theories about the cause of death include alcoholism, tuberculosis, and other illnesses.

In “The Fall of the House of Usher,” the name “Usher” is symbolic of the physical and psychological decay of the house and its inhabitants. The name “Usher” also evokes the word “usher,” meaning to introduce or bring in, which is fitting as the story introduces the reader to the eerie and decaying world of the House of Usher.

Poe’s most successful story during his lifetime was “The Gold-Bug,” which was published in 1843 and won a cash prize from a Philadelphia newspaper. The story was a detective tale that featured a coded message and was popular among both the general public and literary critics.

Poe edited several magazines throughout his career, including “The Southern Literary Messenger” and “Graham’s Magazine.”

Poe’s relationship with his foster father was strained, and the two had several conflicts over money and career choices. Poe’s feelings of abandonment and rejection likely influenced his writing, which often dealt with themes of death, loss, and the macabre.

Poe’s brief military service may have influenced his writing in several ways. His experiences in the army and at West Point may have given him a sense of discipline and structure that is evident in his writing. He also may have gained inspiration for his stories from the stories and legends he heard from other soldiers.

The name “Dupin” is significant in Poe’s detective stories as it is the surname of the main character, C. Auguste Dupin, who is considered the first fictional detective in literature. The name “Dupin” also evokes the French verb “duper,” meaning to deceive or cheat, which is fitting as Dupin is known for his ability to outwit criminals and solve seemingly impossible mysteries.

The name “Pym” in Poe’s novel “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket” is significant as it is the surname of the main character and narrator, Arthur Gordon Pym. The name “Pym” also evokes the word “pyramid,” which is fitting as the novel deals with the theme of exploration and the discovery of a mysterious and unknown land.

Poe’s writing style evolved over the course of his career, becoming more polished and refined. In his early works, his writing was characterized by its gothic and melodramatic elements, but as he matured as a writer, his style became more subtle and nuanced. He also became more experimental in his use of language, incorporating elements of science fiction and detective fiction into his work. Additionally, Poe’s writing also became more focused on psychological and philosophical themes, such as the nature of reality and the human mind.


Wow! Additional Information About Edgar!

Edgar Allan Poe was a renowned American poet and short story writer of the 19th century. Born in 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts, Poe was raised by his foster parents John and Frances Allan after his biological parents died. His talent for writing was noticed early on and he was introduced to literature by his foster mother Frances Allan. He attended the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, but left due to disciplinary issues.

Poe’s literary career began in 1827 with the publication of his first book of poetry, “Tamerlane and Other Poems.” He later published other collections of poems, including “Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems” and “The Raven and Other Poems.” He also wrote a number of short stories, including “The Gold Bug,” “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” and “The Tell-Tale Heart,” that are now considered classic works of American literature.

Poe was known for his innovative writing style, incorporating elements of mystery, horror, and the macabre into his work. He is considered a pioneer of the detective fiction genre and his writing had a significant impact on the French symbolists of the 19th century. His works have been the subject of numerous literary studies and critical biographies, including works by David Poe, Thomas Ollive Mabbott, and others.

Poe’s life was marked by tragedy, including the death of his foster mother Frances Allan and his biological mother, as well as the death of his wife Virginia Clemm from tuberculosis. Despite his personal struggles, Poe continued to write and publish his work, and his contributions to American literature have been recognized by literary organizations such as the Edgar Allan Poe Society and the Raven Society.

Poe died in 1849 under mysterious circumstances, and the cause of his death is still a matter of speculation. Despite this, his legacy lives on and his works continue to be widely read and studied. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Harvard University Press, Yale University Press, Cambridge University Press, Duke University Press, Oxford University Press, Rutgers University Press, and Louisiana State University Press have all published critical editions of Poe’s work. Poe’s works can be found in libraries, including the Boston Public Library, the New York Public Library, and the Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine. Poe’s legacy continues to inspire new generations of writers and his impact on American poetry and literature is widely recognized.

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