Edgar Allen Poe1

Edgar Allen Poe is mainly known for his personal life rather than his great ability to write short stories. Rumors include his problem with alcoholism and drug addiction. In reality, though, Edgar Allen Poe had a talent for writing stories of horror and suspense, and also for creating America’s short story form.

Edgar Allen Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 19, 1809. His father, David Poe, was from a Baltimore family. He was an actor barely making a living and a heavy drinker. Poe’s mother, Elizabeth Arnold Poe, was also in the acting business. She became a widow at the age of eighteen. Two years after his birth, she died of tuberculosis. When his mother died, Poe was adopted by John Allen. Edgar had gotten his middle name from him. His brother and younger sister were sent off to two different families. In 1815, John Allen moved his family to England. While there, Poe was sent to private schools. After living in England for several years, the Allen’s moved back to Richmond, Virginia.

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When Poe reached his teenage years, tensions developed between Mr. Allen and himself. The Allen’s were very wealthy, but Mr. Allen disapproved of Edgar’s actions, so he decided that he would not inherit any of the family’s wealth. In the spring of 1826, Poe entered the University of Virginia. John Allen did not support his tuition well enough, so Poe turned to gambling to get money. Finally, after months of disputes, Poe left the Allen’s home and went out on his own.

In May of 1827, Poe enlisted in the army as a common soldier under the name Edgar A. Perry. He was stationed on Sullivan’s Island in Charleston Harbor for over a year. Poe quickly rose to the rank of regimental sergeant major. After a while, he got tired of the same daily routine involved in military life. He ended up getting discharged for gross neglect of duty and disobedience of orders (Byers 364).
After being discharged from the Army, Poe went back to Richmond to visit the Allen’s. After having another dispute with Mr. Allen, he moved to Baltimore to live with his Aunt Maria Clemm and his cousin, Virginia. He was unemployed and trying to find work. In 1831, Poe decided to seek employment and make his living by writing. He published one of his first works, Poems by Edgar Allen Poe. Failing to get attention with is poems, he decided to start writing short stories. Poe competed in a contest by the Phil-Saturday Courier for the best short story in 1831. He did not win the prize. This made Poe very determined to start a new project. He decided to plan a series of tales told by members of a literary group. He found no publisher for his stories, but still entered another contest again in June of 1835. This time, he sent one poem and six stories. His story, “Ms. Found in a Bottle,” won. 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. He was eventually fired from the Messenger in January 1837 because of his drinking problem.

Poe then went to New York, where he was very unsuccessful. In the summer of 1838, he moved to Philadelphia. While there, he worked as an editor of both Burton’s Gentlemen’s Magazine and Graham’s Magazine. He entered another contest and won one hundred dollars for his story “The Gold Bug”. Even though he won this prize, he moved back to New York and found a job as an assistant editor for the Evening Mirror. This was where “The Raven” first appeared on January 29, 1845. Even though the poem was a great success and got published all over the country, Poe still did not get much recognition from 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

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