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when was edgar allan poe born and when did he die,
Edgar Allan Poe, (born January 19, 1809, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.—died October 7, 1849, Baltimore, Maryland), American short-story writer, poet, critic, and editor who is famous for his cultivation of mystery and the macabre. His tale “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (1841) initiated the modern detective story, and the atmosphere in his tales of horror is unrivaled in American fiction. His “The Raven” (1845) numbers among the best-known poems in the national literature.
Early life and family
Poe never really knew his parents — Elizabeth Arnold Poe, a British actress, and David Poe, Jr., an actor who was born in Baltimore. His father left the family early in Poe’s life, and his mother passed away from tuberculosis when he was only three.
Separated from his brother William and sister Rosalie, Poe went to live with John and Frances Allan, a successful tobacco merchant and his wife, in Richmond, Virginia. Edgar and Frances seemed to form a bond, but he had a more difficult relationship with John Allan.
Money was also an issue between Poe and John Allan. Poe went to the University of Virginia in 1826, where he excelled in his classes. However, he didn’t receive enough funds from Allan to cover all of his costs. Poe turned to gambling to cover the difference, but ended up in debt.
He returned home only to face another personal setback — his neighbor and fiancée Sarah Elmira Royster had become engaged to someone else. Heartbroken and frustrated, Poe moved to Boston.
Army and West Point
In 1827, he moved to Boston and enlisted in the United States Army. His first collection of poems, Tamerlane, and Other Poems, was published that year. In 1829, he published a second collection entitled Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems. Neither volume received significant critical or public attention. Following his Army service, Poe was admitted to the United States Military Academy, but he was again forced to leave for lack of financial support. He then moved into the home of his aunt Maria Clemm and her daughter Virginia in Baltimore, Maryland.
Editor and Author
After leaving West Point,
Poe eventually moved to Baltimore where he lived with his impoverished Aunt Maria Poe Clemm and her young daughter, Virginia. Poe continued to write poetry and prose. In 1833, he won a $50 prize and attention for his short story “Ms. Found in a Bottle.” The attention he gained led to a job offer as an editor for the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond. Poe accepted the position and moved to Richmond in 1835. His aunt and cousin joined him the following year. Poe married his thirteen year old cousin, Virginia, shortly afterwards.
The Poes and Mrs. Clemm moved to New York City in 1837 with the hope of Edgar finding work in the literary field. The city, as well as the rest of the country was in the midst of a depression caused by the financial “Panic of ’37.” Unable to find work, Poe moved to Philadelphia in 1838. The six years he spent in Philadelphia proved to be his most productive, and perhaps the happiest years of his life. He worked as an editor and critic for one of the nation’s largest magazines, Graham’s Magazine. Some of his most famous stories were written in Philadelphia,
including the “Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Mask of the Red Death,” and “Ligeia.” Poe referred to South Carolina settings in several short stories, including “The Balloon-Hoax” and “The Oblong Box.” By far his most popular story inspired by Sullivan’s Island was “The Gold Bug,” originally published in 1843.
From New York City, the Poes moved to Baltimore, and for two years, the young family lived in even more dire poverty than they had in New York City. Poe continued writing, however, and finally in May 1839,
he was hired as a co-editor of Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine. He held this position for a year, during which he published some of his best fiction, including “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “William Wilson.”
Because of his drinking, Poe lost his job the following year. This was unfortunate because his Tales of the Grotesque,
which had been published several months earlier, was not selling well. Once again, Poe and his wife found themselves on the edge of poverty, but Poe’s former employer recommended Poe to the publisher of Graham’s, and once again Poe found work as an editor while he worked on his own fiction and poetry.
In January 1842, Poe suffered yet another setback. His wife, Virginia, burst a blood vessel in her throat. She did recover, but Poe’s restlessness began to grow, as did the frequency of his drinking bouts, and he left Graham’s under unpleasant circumstances. He attempted to found his own magazine and failed; he worked on cheap weeklies for awhile and, in a moment of despair, he went to Washington to seek out President Tyler. According to several accounts, he was so drunk when he called on the President that he wore his cloak inside out.
The Death of Edgar Allan Poe
While in Richmond, Poe rekindled his childhood romance with Elmira Royster Shelton, who was then a wealthy widow. At the dismay of her children, she and Poe once again became engaged in 1849. Poe planned to move permanently to Richmond to be with Elmira. He planned a trip to New York to bring Maria (his mother-in-law) back to Richmond. He was also planning to see a client in Philadelphia on the way up the coast.
Poe’s last day in Richmond was on September 26th, 1849. Elmira was worried about his health. After his bout of cholera, his health had been quite fragile. She encouraged Poe to visit his doctor who is also a friend. Poe did, but it was primarily a social visit. He had a late meal at Sadler’s Restaurant. And at 4am on September 27th, 1849, Poe boarded a ship headed for Baltimore. From September 27th until October 3rd, there is no record of his whereabouts.
On October 3rd, an election day, Poe was found delirious in a tavern called Gunner’s Hall in Baltimore. He appeared drunk, wearing someone else’s clothes and was taken to Washington University Hospital. For the next four days he was in and out of consciousness, sometimes being alert, sometimes screaming at nothing and no one.
Edgar Allan Poe died on October 7th, 1849. The doctor labeled his cause of death as “phrenitis” (inflammation of the brain) which was commonly used when the true cause of death was unknown. Because of these mysteriouscircumstances, and the persona of Poe, there is much speculation about the true manner of his death. There are over 26 published theories on his demise, so far.
Poe’s death, although untimely and unfortunate, was quite the fitting end for a writer who created stories of true horror and mystery. Even in death, Edgar Allan Poe created a mystery that would live on forever.
Today, Poe is recognized as one of the foremost progenitors of modern literature,
both in its popular forms, such as horror and detective fiction,
and in its more complex and self-conscious forms, which represent the essential artistic manner of the 20th century. In contrast to earlier critics who viewed the man and his works as one,
criticism of the past 25 years has developed a view of Poe as a detached artist who was more concerned with displaying his virtuosity than with expressing his soul,
and who maintained an ironic rather than an autobiographical relationship to his writings. While at one time critics such as Yvor Winters wished to remove Poe from literary history,
his works remain integral to any conception of modernism in world literature. Herbert Marshall McLuhan wrote in an essay entitled “Edgar Poe’s Tradition”: “While the New England dons primly turned the pages of Plato and Buddha beside a tea-cozy,
and while Browning and Tennyson were creating a parochial fog for the English mind to relax in,
Poe never lost contact with the terrible pathos of his time. Coevally with Baudelaire, and long before Conrad and Eliot, he explored the heart of darkness.”
He is celebrated as the first professional American writer
Today, Poe is celebrated for his distinctive writing style and pioneering approach to poetry and short stories. Though he lived and worked in the United States,
his oeuvre is well-known throughout the world; in fact, he is particularly renowned in France, thanks to an extensive translation effort by 19th-century poet Charles Baudelaire.
Of course, Poe is also popular in the United States.
After carving out a career as a respected critic and living entirely off of his earnings as a poet and author,
he is known today as the country’s first professional writer. To Poe, however, it was not a dream of professional success that inspired him to write; it was his love for the practice. “With me poetry has been not a purpose,
but a passion,” he wrote in 1845, “and the passions should be held in reverence: they must not — they cannot at will be excited,
with an eye to the paltry compensations, or the more paltry commendations, of mankind.”