Poe, Edgar Allan

Author, Poet, and Critic


Born in Boston on January 19, 1809, Poe was reared by a Richmond (Va.) tobacco merchant, John Allan, whose name he used as his middle name after 1824. During 1826, Poe attended the University of Virginia, but meagerfinancial support by his foster father and his own gambling losses brought about the end of his formal education.

In the following year, Poe published a slim volume, Tamerlane and Other Poems; but the work failed to attract any attention. Distressed, he enteredthe U. S. Army later that same year, and remained there for two years.

In 1830, he was admitted to West Point, but was dismissed (1831) for gross neglect of duty. Traveling to New York City, he issued Poems, 1831, containing early versions of "Israfel" and "The Doomed City." But it was only in 1833, that he first won public notice with "A MS. Found in a Bottle," which was awarded a prize by a Baltimore publication.

He married his thirteen-year-old cousin, Virginia Clemm in 1835, and a few years later published The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (1838). After engaging in free-lance journalism for a while, he became editor of Burtons Gentleman‚s Magazine (1839-40), in which he published "The Fall of the House of Usher" and other pieces.

His poem, "The Raven" was published in 1844, bringing him his first fame. And holding positions with the New York Evening Mirror, 1844-45, the Broadway Journal, 1845-1846, and Godey‚s Lady‚s Book, 1846, he established himself as a leading, if often, contentious critic. From 1847, however, the year of his wife‚s death, his poor health worsened and he fell deeper into poverty. Poe died in Baltimore on October 7, 1849.