Edgar Allan Poe

Posted: October 17th, 2013

  • Introduction – Comment on Poe’s life and thesis statement
  • Body – Poe’s early life, marriage, works and death
    Early life in Richmond
    .Poe’s family
    Poe’s father
    Poe’s mother
    Poe’s marriage
    Reference in Poe’s Poems
  • Poe’s works

Military career

Literary work



  • Poe’s Later Years

Wife’s death

Courting Sarah Helen

Reconciling with Sarah Elmira

  • Death
  • Conclusion
    Analytical summary
    Poe’s early life
    Poe’s works
    Poe’s later years
    Thesis reworded
    Concluding statement





















Edgar Allan Poe


            Poe’s work continues to influence not only America but also the whole world. He was the pioneer of writing detective and horror stories. He introduced short stories and focused on literally styles. Other authors from French like Mallarme and Baudelaire spent a lot of time translating Poe’s work into French. Poe started a movement called Art for art’s sake, which encouraged and supported authors. His life is exemplary to the modern writers and he is remembered as among the first authors in America to gain popularity worldwide (Carlson, 119).


            Edgar Allan Poe was born in January 19, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts. His parents were Elizabeth Arnold Poe and David Poe, who were both actors. Unfortunately, they died when Edgar was less than three years. He was adopted by John and Frances Allan and they lived in Richmond., Virginia. Poe’s other siblings were William Henry who went to live with the maternal grandparents. Poe’s sister was taken in by foster parents. John, Poe’s foster father, was a successful businessperson who exported tobacco. His business forced him to move with his family to Scotland in London. They lived there for five year then went back to Richmond.

After Poe joined the Allan family, he was baptized in the Episcopal Church in 1812. His foster father raised him with a lot of discipline and took him to the best boarding schools. He excelled in his academic work until he joined university (Peltak, 67). Poe began to gamble and got into debt but his father refused to settle the debts for him. He dropped out of the institution and went to live with his foster family. John and Poe could not get along so Poe moved out and went to live with her aunt and cousin in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1827, Poe joined the Army and after a period of service, he was enrolled in the military academy. He did not complete due to lack of fees.

Although Poe was brought up in a disciplined manner, his relationship with John Allan deteriorated in his teenage hood. John Allan’s personality was characterized with being unemotional and unsympathetic. For instance, he refused to Poe’s debts and withdrew from the university. When Poe was resigning, the commanding officer demanded a letter from his father, Allan. Poe had to reconcile with his father for him to send a letter of releasing Poe from the Army. John Allan could not even inform Poe of France’s illness. Poe got home a day after her burial.

Edgar Allan Poe’s marriage life was secretive and short-lived. Before he joined University of Virginia, he had secretly engaged with Sarah Elmira Royster. However, he did not marry her since he was supposed to join university. When he was twenty-six years old, he married Virginia Clemm. She was a distant cousin who was only thirteen years old but the marriage certificate was written she was twenty-one. According to Lange (47), the couple decided to go public with their union in 1836, when they held a wedding ceremony in Richmond. Virginia died when she was twenty-four years. It is believed her death contributed in Poe’s inspiration of his work.

Even before Virginia’s death, Poe suffered from depression because of his wife’s illness. He occasionally became drunk and left his current job. He aimed at getting a government’s post. He went to live in New York with his wife and he featured in “Evening Mirror”, which became popular. They lived in a cottage, which is called “Poe’s cottage” today, where Virginia died. Poe tried to court Sarah Helen Whitman, a poet who lived in Providence. It was not successful because Poe drunk a lot and showed erratic behavior. It is also said Sarah mother’s mother contributed to the failure of the relationship. Poe went back to Richmond and resumed his relationship with Sarah Royster.

Poe’s financial status was difficult especially after he stopped living with his foster parents. He is said to be the first author whose livelihood depended on his literally work. His first publications did not receive public attention. It was also hard to get a publisher and draw people’s interest to his work. When he was in the University of Virginia, his father did not give him enough allowance to meet his costs. He engaged in gambling to make extra money. Financial constraints made him desperate and he joined the Army under false identity. His superior only learnt the truth when Poe was resigning (Merriam, 212).

Edgar Allan Poe died on October 7, 1849 in the morning. Four days before his death, Joseph Walker found him on the streets and he needed help. Walker took him to Washington College Hospital. He was not wearing his clothes and no one could understand the preceding circumstances before he was found on the streets. The exact cause of death has never been established because his medical records are unavailable. The supposed cause of death is cerebral inflammation. This kind of condition is caused by disruptions like alcoholism. This speculation was followed by other several assumptions. A conclusion was made that the real cause of his death was unknown.

After Poe died, a long obituary appeared in the New York Tribune. The obituary was published by Rufus Wilmot Griswold. He had had a grudge against from 1842 and it seemed he was trying to ruin Poe’s reputation (Meltzer, 94). He wrote a memoir, which said Poe was a drunkard and he used drugs. Most of the information in that memoir was false and incorrect. For example, people knew for sure Poe did not use drugs. Griswold memoir and book was not accepted By Poe’s supporters. All the proof presented by Griswold was discovered to be forgery.

Edgar Allan Poe’s Writings and Literary Works

            The first publication Poe made was a book with poems. It was called Tamerlane and other poems. Unfortunately, the fifty copies produced did not sell out. His era of career as a writer was difficult because there was no international law on copyrights. Publishers did not pay the writers in good time and Poe found himself straining financially. Despite the many challenges in this career, Poe continued to venture in other areas of writing like prose. He published stories and wrote the drama, Politian. His hard work and struggle in writing was awarded by winning a prize for a short story called MS found in a bottle.

This story enabled him to get more opportunities in his career. For instance, he became an assistant editor of a periodical in Richmond. The public’s interest grew from seven hundred people to three thousand, five hundred people. This improvement encouraged him to publish more books, poems and stories. Poe continued to get more jobs as an editor and made more money from the sales of his publications. For instance, in 1839, he was an editor of Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine. He left this job and joined editorial team of Graham’s Magazine (Carlson, 412).

Poe had an interest in literary styles and themes. He was popularly known for his gothic work. He created these fiction stories to impress people since it was their taste. Some recurring themes in this genre were premature burial, death, reincarnation, physical signs of death and mourning among others. Another genre was romanticism, which was Poe’s reaction to transcendentalism. He abhorred transcendentalism and considered the followers as hypocrites. Poe’s thought this group was misleading people by teaching them the wrong doctrines. He viewed their literally work as worthless and called their movement “Frog-pondian”.

Other genres Poe wrote about were satires, comedies and hoaxes among others (Meltzer, 121). His comedies were characterized with irony and ludicrous extravagance. These features were intended to break the monotony of what readers always find in comedies. In his first story Metzengerstein, Poe incorporated satire, horror and comic effects. He came up with science fiction and revealed it in The balloon-hoax. Poe selected themes, which would sell to the public and used them in his work. His fiction work involved using physiognomy, phrenology and pseudoscience.

Edgar Allan Poe’s literally work depicted the literary theories. He showed them in his criticism and stories. He did not like allegory and didacticism but he agreed that literature’s meaning should not be obvious. It should be indirect to assist readers in critical thinking. According to his thoughts, literally works with direct and obvious meaning should not be seen as art. A writer should be precise and focused on the agenda of writing. The quality of his or her work will be determined by how an idea or sentiment is calculated.

Poe was considered the greatest critic in his career time. Other critics like James Russell recognize Poe work by saying how philosophical and fearless he was. His work became popular in both America and Europe. He is also respected in France because some of his work was translated into French. Poe wrote some stories on detective fiction, which inspired other writers to venture in this genre. Today, there are dozens of literature on detective fiction and horror stories. Poe has not only received praised but also criticism. This was mainly contributed by his character traits and their effect on his reputation. Critics like William Yeats occasionally viewed Poe as vulgar. Other criticisms were from Ralph Emerson who was a transcendentalist. He criticized The Raven and said he did not see any substantial content in it. It could be because he knew Poe disliked the movement (Peltak, 200).


Edgar Allan Poe’s life was short but he left a legacy to future generations. His parents raised him with discipline and gave him quality education. Before he focused on his writing career, he was in the Army. He published hi first poems as he did his military work. This is an indication of his passion for literature. Poe introduced new knowledge on writing fiction in gothic and detective stories. His life is a legacy and a good example to modern writers and he has inspired other writer who use his spirit, to write their literally work. His struggle with financial problems shows that a writing career is rewarding and people can make a livelihood out of it (Lange, 111).

Works cited

Merriman, C.D. Edgar Allan Poe. The literature network. Web. 2006. Web. July 10, 2012.

Meltzer, Milton. Edgar Allan Poe: A Biography. Brookfield, CT: Twenty-First Century Books, 2003. Print.

Lange, Karen E. Nevermore: A Photobiography of Edgar Allan Poe. Washington, D.C: National Geographic, 2009. Print.

Peltak, Jennifer. Edgar Allan Poe. Philadelphia, PA: Chelsea House, 2004. Print.

Carlson, Eric W. Edgar Allan Poe. Brandeis. n.d. Web. July 10, 2012.






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