Master of the Macabre: Edgar Allan Poe

By | April 20, 2019

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Poe and raven. Source: (

Many and many a year ago, or more specifically, on January 19, 1809, in Boston, Massachusetts, Edgar Allan Poe was born. Despite living a very short and difficult life, he was an influential figure in American literature, making great contributions to the genres of science fiction and horror, and is credited with inventing detective fiction.

Poe was the son of British actress Elizabeth Arnold Poe and actor David Poe, Jr. Both of Poe’s parents died before he reached three years old. As a result, he was raised by in Richmond, Virginia, by a merchant named John Allan and his wife, who had no children of their own. From 1815 to 1820, Poe was educated abroad in England and Scotland. In 1825, he attended the University of Virginia in Charlottesville but was unable to continue due to debts acquired from gambling.

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Portrait of Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849). Source: (Wikimedia Commons)

Poe returned to Richmond in 1827, but his relationship with Allan was strained. This, along with the engagement of his former sweetheart, Sarah Elmira Royster, led him to move to Boston. While there, he published his first book of poetry, Tamerlane, and Other Poems (1827). The book was not successful, leading Poe to enlist in the army under the name of Edgar A Perry. In 1829, he published his second book of poetry, Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems, which was marginally more successful. The same year, his foster mother passed away and Allan arranged for Poe to be dishonorably discharged and given an appointment at the United States Military Academy at West Point.