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Life Of Edgar Allan Poe Essay, Research Paper

Torray Riles English 7


Edgar Allan Poe Biography

Many authors have made great contributions to the world of literature. One such author that influenced literature is Edgar Allan Poe. Poe is known as the father of the American short story and father of the detective story. To understand the literary contributions of Edgar Allan Poe, one must look at his early life, and his literary life.

Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston on January 19, 1809. He was born to a southern family that were in a traveling company of actors. His father, David Poe, was from a Baltimore family. He was an actor by profession and a heavy drinker. Soon after Edgar Allan Poe was born, he left his family. Poe’s mother, Elizabeth Arnold Poe, was a widow at the age of eighteen. Two years after his birth, she died of tuberculosis. When his mother died, John Allan adopted Poe, because his wife begged him to. In 1815, John Allan moved his family to England. While there, Poe was sent to private schools.

In the spring of 1826, Poe entered the University of Virginia. There he studied Spanish, French, Italian, and Latin. He had an excellent scholastic record. He got into difficulties almost at once. Mr. Allan did not provide him with the money to pay for his fees and other necessities. Poe was confused and homesick. He learned to play cards and started drinking. Soon he was in debt in excess of two thousand dollars. Poe discovered that he could not depend upon Allan for financial support. His foster father refused to pay his debts, and Poe had to withdraw from the University.

In May of 1827, Poe enlisted in the army as a common soldier. He did this under the name of Edgar A. Perry. He was stationed on Sullivan’s Island in Charleston Harbor.

He adapted very well to military discipline and quickly rose to the rank of regimental sergeant major. After a while, he got tired of the same daily routine involved in military life. Poe wrote regularly to Mr. Allan. He met with Mr. Allan after the death of Mrs. Allan in

February of 1829. With Allan’s support, he received his discharge and enlisted in West Point on July 1, l830. While at West Point, Mr. Allan, who had remarried, continued in not providing Poe with enough money. Poe decided to have himself kicked out of school. Cutting classes and disregarding orders were his solutions. He was court-martialed for neglect of duties in January, 1831, and left.

Poe then began to write poetry. In 1831, Poe succeeded in publishing a new edition of his poems entitled, Poems. Poe was now in great difficulty. He went to New York, but could find no job there. Eventually he took refuge with his aunt, Mrs. Clemm, in Baltimore. There he decided to seek employment and make his living by writing. Failing to get attention with his poems, he decided to start writing short stories. Poe competed in a contest for the best short story in 1831. The prize was offered by Phil-Saturday Courier. Because he did not win the prize, Poe started on an ambitious project. He decided to plan a series of tales told by members of a literary group. He found no publisher for his stories, and entered the contest again in June of 1835. This time he sent one poem and six stories. His story, Ms. Found in a Bottle, won , and he received one hundred dollars for it. Through the influence of one of the judges, John P. Kennedy, Poe became employed as an editor of the Southern Literary Messenger, published in Richmond. Under Poe’s editorship, the Messenger ’s circulation rose from 500 to 3500. While in Richmond, Poe married his cousin, Virginia, who was not quite fourteen years old. Poe was fired from the Messenger in January of 1837.

Poe then went to New York, where he was unsuccessful. In the summer of 1838, he moved to Philadelphia. While in Philadelphia, he worked as the editor of two magazines.

Even though he won a one hundred dollar prize for “The Gold Bug”, he moved to New York. Poe found a job in New York as an assistant editor for the Evening Mirror. This was where “The Raven” first appeared on January 29, 1845. The poem immediately caught the imagination of the public and was reprinted all over the country and even abroad in all kinds of newspapers and magazines, but Poe pocketed only a few dollars for his poems. The year of 1845 was a lucky year for Poe. He published a collection of his Tales and an edition of his poems named The Raven and Other Poems. He also became the editor of the weekly Broadway Journal. Poe broke down when Virginia died in January of 1848. In 1849, Poe died in Baltimore. Instead of really living, he took refuge from the physical world in the private world of his dreams-in other words-in the world of his tales.

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