Edgar Allan Poe, the famous author of works such as “The Telltale Heart” and “The Raven,” is considered to be one of the fathers of American horror. Additionally, Poe was a contributor to detective fiction with stories like “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” Of course there is a story behind the revered name of Poe, and his life often reads like an excerpt from one of his own, twisted tales.
Poe was born in the year 1809 in Boston, Mass. Both of his parents were actors, and he had both a brother and a sister. Of course what family life the young Edgar Allan had was quickly destroyed when his father left the family in the year 1810, and Poe’s mother soon died of consumption. Edgar was then adopted by a Scottish tobacco merchant who lived close by, and his brother and sister each went to other families.
Poe’s adopted family (whose last name Allan he took), moved back to Britain where he attended school. Poe also attended the University of Virginia for a single year, but he soon left. Though his adopted family was fairly well off, Poe didn’t receive much of a stipend while he was at school. In order to try and compensate, the young Poe tried his hand at gambling to increase his wealth. He failed miserably, however, and was soon out of almost all his money.
Though he’d been writing before, Poe first published a volume of poetry in the year 1827, and then another in 1829. Both of these volumes were published under pseudonyms, and during the publication of the second volume Poe was serving in the Army for 2 years. It was in the year 1831 that Poe began to write prose, and he began to have success, getting several of his pieces published in a variety of magazines and winning prizes for his work.
In the year 1835 Poe secretly married his cousin Virginia (who was 13 at the time, and considered to be quite marriageable by the standards of the time). For the next many years Poe moved from one job to another, always writing and publishing, on staff at a variety of magazines. However, Virginia broke a blood vessel in the year 1842, and Poe began to drink heavily. Though he continued to work, Virginia never fully recovered, and in the year 1847 she died from her condition.
Poe was described as a broken man after his wife’s death, and his drinking increased even more. Poe has also been accused of taking mind altering drugs, including absinthe and opium, which were fairly popular among artists and dabblers at the time. It took until October of 1849, but all of Poe’s demons finally caught up with him. He was hospitalized after being found in a delirious state of mind, and Poe died in the hospital at the age of 37. Though he was not among the literary greats at the time of his death, his work remained in circulation and like most great art, it was only truly appreciated after its creator had passed away.