Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 19, 1908. When he was still a baby, his parents, David and Elizabeth, were separated. They were both travelling performers. His mother left his father taking him, his older brother Henry, and baby sister Rosalie with her. She died when Edgar was merely two years old, and his father died also before he was three. The children were sent to different homes to be raised separately; Henry went to live with their grandparents and the others were adopted. Mr. and Mrs. John Allan took in the young boy, being a successful tobacco merchant they were able to provide well for him. He was a very intelligent child. He spent five years in England getting his elementary education. Having studied math and history, as well as learning Latin and French, he attended the University of Virginia when he was seventeen years old. Even though his adoptive father had plenty of money, he began refusing to help Poe. Unfortunately, without the financial assistance from his parents, he was forced to drop out of college within his first year.
When he was eighteen years old, realizing he didn’t have occupational skills or money, Poe decided to join the Army. He enlisted in 1827, in the city where he was born. Even though they were estranged, Poe lost his adoptive mother in 1829. He had been doing very well in the Army and achieved the rank of Sergeant Major. As a fatherly gesture after the passing of Mrs. Allan, Mr. Allan signed the entrance application for Poe to attend West Point. There is some debate whether his exit from the prestigious school was due to lack of funds again or Poe’s complete disregard for the regulations and rules. Beginning in 1830, he stayed at West Point for less than a year.
After having some poetry published in New York City, Poe moved to the city in 1831 to live as a struggling author. After writing several short stories that were all rejected for publication, he wrote to Mr. Allan practically begging him for help. His pleas were met with silence, even after his father’s death. Mr. Allan died in 1834 without naming Poe in his will. Four years into his struggle in the city, he finally received a job working as a newspaper editor after winning a writing contest. Once he was employed, he sent for his biological aunt, Mrs. Clemm and her daughter, Virginia. Even though Virginia was half his age, merely fourteen years old, they were married in 1836. Due to a perceived unfairly low wage, Poe left his job at the newspaper, spending the next four years writing, but not being financially successful.
In 1840, he accepted a position as the editor for Graham’s Magazine. During the two years he worked there, he published his first story, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”. He left after two years, deciding with his experience he should start his own magazine. Calling it The Stylus, his magazine dreams fizzled when he wasn’t able to successfully get it published. He was once again out of a job, struggling to sell his written works. Another publication he worked for went bankrupt, and he was again out of work. His aunt had to help the family financially several times.
In 1847, Poe lost the love of his life when Virginia passed away at the age of twenty-four. The stress caused a severe ailment with him, causing a lot of speculation that he wasn’t far behind her. He was able to move on, rekindling a childhood romance with Sarah Shelton. The two were planning to marry in October of 1849. While travelling to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania he disappeared for five days. Poe was found on October 3rd unconscious and taken to the hospital. Even though he did wake up occasionally, he was never able to explain what had happened. He finally passed away in the hospital on October 7, 1849 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Edgar Allan Poe is most famously known for his poem “The Raven” and the short story “The Tell Tale Heart”. He was also famous for being an alcoholic, even from the young age of seventeen. Attempts at sobriety failed him, with many speculating his alcohol abuse was a factor in his mysterious death. A rival, Rufus Griswold, wrote his obituary, calling him a womanizing, morbid, alcoholic in an attempt to ruin him once and for all. It is this character Griswold created that most people know. Even though the attempts to discredit his literary genius, his works have become famous the world over, leaving little room to question his status.