Biography of Edgar Allan Poe

Updated October 13, 2020

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Biography of Edgar Allan Poe essay

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Edgar Allen Poe was born on January 19, 1809, in Boston, Massachusetts (Biography). He was one of America’s most successful writer, critic, poet, and editor. Poe was best known for his short stories, and he was also credited as one of the first writers of the detective and horror fiction genre. Poe’s parents were both professional actors who passed away when he was a baby. Poe was raised as a foster child by his foster parents John and Frances Allen in Richmond, Virginia (Poestories). Poe was best known for some of the literary classics such as “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” and “The Raven” (Biography).

Since Poe’s foster father, John Allen, was a successful tobacco exporter, he was able to send Poe to some of the best boarding schools and later to the University of Virginia in 1826, where Poe excelled academically (Poet). However, money became an issue for Poe as he did not receive enough funds from his foster father to cover his costs (Biography).

As a result, Poe started gambling to cover the difference but ended up in debt, which in turn forced him to leave university (Biography). In 1827, Poe went to Boston and enlisted in the US Army. When Poe was in the Army, he was able to attain the rank of sergeant major; however, in 1829, he had to go back to Richmond because he learned that his foster mother, Frances Allen was dying of tuberculosis (Biography). By the time he returned, she had already passed away.

In 1830, Allan helped Poe get into the United States Military Academy at West Point. When he was at West Point, he did really well in his studies; however, he was expelled from the Academy a year later due to his poor handling of his duties (Biography) and for financial reasons (Poets). After leaving West Point, Poe focused on becoming a writer full time (Biography). In 1835, Poe finally got a job as an editor of the Southern Literary Messenger, in Richmond (Poestories). While he was working at the publication, he moved with his aunt and cousin Virginia. A year later, he married his cousin (Poets). During his time at the newspaper, his aggressive-reviewing style of his contemporaries’ work gave him a bad reputation in the publication, which eventually led him to quit the newspaper (Biography).

In 1840, Poe joined Graham’s Magazine as an editor, and during his first two years at the publication, he published his first detective story “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (Poestories). However, in 1842, he left the magazine because he wanted to start his own. A year later, he published a few of his short stories but could not find financial success (Poestories). In 1844, Poe moved to New York City and published the literary classic “The Raven” a year later which gave him immediate success (Poestories). During the same year, he became an editor at The Broadway Journal; however, a year later, the Journal went bankrupt, and he became unemployed again (Poestories). In 1847, his wife, Virginia died of tuberculosis, which made his depression and alcoholism worse (Poets).

During the year of 1849, Poe moved quite a few times from New York to Philadelphia to Richmond to Baltimore. Later that year, on October 3, he fell ill and was taken to Washington College Hospital, where he passed away four days later (Biography). At the time of his death, it was said that he was experiencing a “congestion of the brain” (Biography). However, no one really knew exactly why he died, and his death was subjected to endless speculation (Biography). Some believed that he died from alcoholism, while others thought that he might have suffered from several other severe health conditions (Biography).

Even though he did not have financial success during his lifetime, he became one of America’s greatest writers (Biography). He was credited as the “architect” of the modern short story, and he was also known to be the first writer to focus primarily on the effect of style and structure of literary work (Poets). His writing influenced writers, including Charles Baudelaire, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Stephane Mallarme (Biography).

However, shortly after Poe’s death, his reputation was damaged by his literary adversary, Rufus Griswold. During Poe’s lifetime, he criticized Griswold’s work and a result, Griswold decided to take his revenge on Poe by planting misconceptions in the public’s mind by writing the first biography on Poe (Biography). However, despite his reputation, Poe is known to be a prolific writer, and he is well known in both American and International literature.


  • “Edgar Allan Poe.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 19 June 2019, www.biography.com/writer/edgar-allan-poe.
  • Giordano, Robert. “Biography of Edgar Allan Poe.” A Short Biography of Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) – Poestories.com, poestories.com/biography.php.
  • Poets.org, Academy of American Poets, poets.org/poet/edgar-allan-poe.
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Biography of Edgar Allan Poe. (2020, Sep 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/biography-of-edgar-allan-poe/


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