Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer, poet, editor, and literary critic. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe wrote dozens of short stories and is considered the inventor of the detective-fiction genre.

Photo: Edgar Allan Poe, by W.S. Hartshorn, 1848, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

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    Born in Boston but moving almost immediately to Richmond, Virginia, Poe’s mother died in 1811 (his father having abandoned the family), and Poe was taken in by John Allan. After leaving the University of Virginia for financial reasons, Poe moved to Boston and published his first work in 1827:Tamerlane and Other Poems (published anonymously).

    After publishing this work, Poe was enlisted in the United States Army for two years before being discharged, with the help of Mr. Allan. After returning to Baltimore, Poe’s second volume of poetry, Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems, was published in 1829. At this time, he secured an appointment to the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, though he was dismissed from that position in 1831 after breaking from Mr. Allan and losing the aid of his foster father.

    Poe was one of the first well-known American writers to make a career of writing. Because of this decision, he traveled often (between New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia) working for periodicals and literary journals.

    In 1835, he married his 13-year-old cousin Virginia Clemm, who died of tuberculosis in 1847 (two years before Poe’s own death) and became the subject of Poe’s famous work “Annabel Lee.”

    Poe’s well-known poems include “The Raven” (of 1845) and “The Bells” (published in posthumously in 1849), and his verses have inspired dozens of composers, including Leonard Bernstein (in the final sextet of his cycle Songfest) and Charles Loeffler.

    –Christie Finn

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