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Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe (1809--1849) was born January 19, in Boston, to theatrical parents who died when he was two years old. Poe was adopted and raised by John Allan, a wealthy tobacco merchant from Virginia. Poe traveled with John Allan to England, where he received his early education. He finished his schooling in Virginia and enrolled at the University of Virginia in 1826, but quit after a year.

Poe drank a great deal and found it impossible to hold a job for any extended period of time. A short story, "Manuscript Found in a Bottle," earned him a prize in 1833, and convinced him to devote himself to writing. From that time forward, his life was filled with tragedy. One brief, shining light in Poe's life was his cousin, Virginia Clemm, whom he married when she was thirteen years old. Virginia's influence was good for Poe, but when she died only a few years later, Poe was consumed with grief.

Poe is known as the first detective story writer, the first American writer of the supernatural, the first tragic figure in American fiction. He is responsible for the short story form as we know it today. In a critical essay entitled "Hawthorne's Twice Told Tales," he laid down specific rules for the short story which determined the development of the genre. Poe especially stressed the idea that a short story should attempt to develop a single effect and that all detail that does not directly bring about that effect should be eliminated.

There is some mystery as to the cause of Poe's death. All that is known for sure is that in October of 1849, while traveling from Virginia to New York, he was discovered very ill one night on a street in Baltimore. He died soon afterward.

Poe is recognized as one of America's first important writers. He worked as a literary critic, an editor, and a writer of short stories and poems. "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" is considered to be the world's first detective story. Poe's world-renowned short stories include, "The Black Cat," "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Cask of Amontillado," "The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Fall of the House of Usher," "Ligeia," "Hop-Frog," and "The Mask of the Red Death." His dark and melodic poems such as "The Raven" and "Annabel Lee" are still enjoyed today.

Edgar Allan Poe Stories available on this site:

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Last modified: June 04, 2015