Edgar Allen Poe

American writer, poet


Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door-
Only this, and nothing more."

From The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe 1845

Edgar Poe was born to itinerant actors in Boston in 1809. He was orphaned by age three and raised by foster parents, The Allen's of Richmond, Virginia. His life was short and full of troubles, but he is regarded as one of the great American writers.

At eighteen, Poe set off for Boston where he published his first volume of poems. He never finished college because he ran up so many gambling debts that his foster parents would not allow him to continue college. He later enlisted in the army for two years, but after that it is clear that he faced a life of struggle and poverty.

As a writer, he became nationally famous upon the publication of his poem The Raven in 1845. Poe is most famous for his short stories and his horror stories. He was the first writer to perfect the detective story.

He married Virgina Clemm in 1835 and continued to write. He became editor of the Southern Literary Messenger where he published many stories. He had trouble keeping jobs because he drank too much alcohol. Virginia's death in January 1847 was a heavy blow, but Poe continued to write and lecture. In 1849, two years after his wife's death, he was found unconscious on a Baltimore street and he died a few days later. In a brief obituary the Baltimore Clipper reported that Poe had died of "congestion of the brain." Most people think he died of alcoholism, because of his life-long battle with the disease, but there is also some evidence that he may have died of rabies.






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