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Dr. Shelton's Literary Library

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

(1809-1849), American poet, a master of the horror tale, credited with practically inventing the detective story.

Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts, to parents who were itinerant actors. His father David Poe Jr. died probably in 1810 and his mother Elizabeth Hopkins Poe in 1811. Edgar was taken into the home of a Richmond merchant John Allan and brought up partly in England (1815-20), where he attended Manor School at Stoke Newington. Never legally adopted, Poe took Allan's name for his middle name.

Poe attended the University of Virginia (1826), but was expelled for not paying his gambling debts. This led to a quarrel with Allan, who later disowned him. In 1827 Poe joined the U.S. Army as a common soldier under assumed name and age. In 1830 Poe entered West Point and was dishonorably discharged next year, for intentional neglect of his duties.

Little is known about his life in this time, but in 1833 he lived in Baltimore with his father's sister. After winning a prize of $50 for the short story "MS Found in a Bottle," he started a career as a staff member of various magazines, among others the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond (1835-37), Burton's Gentleman's Magazine in Philadelphia (1839-40), and Graham's Magazine (1842-43). During these years he wrote some of his best-known stories.

In 1836 Poe married his 13-year-old cousin Virginia Clemm. She burst a blood vessel in 1842, and remained a virtual invalid until her death from tuberculosis five years later. After the death of his wife, Poe began to lose his struggle with drinking and drugs. He addressed the famous poem "Annabel Lee" (1849) to her.

Poe's first collection, Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, appeared in 1840. It contained one of his most famous works, "The Fall of the House of Usher." During the early 1840s Poe's best-selling work was The Conchologist's First Book (1839). The dark poem of lost love, "The Raven," brought Poe national fame, when it appeared in 1845. The Murders in the Rue Morgue(1841) and The Purloined Letter are among Poe's most famous detective stories. Poe was also one of the most prolific literary journalists in American history.

Poe suffered from bouts of depression and madness, and he attempted suicide in 1848. In September the following year he disappeared for three days after a drink at a birthday party and on his way to visit his new fiancée in Richmond. He turned up in a delirious condition in Baltimore gutter and died on October 7, 1849.

Poetry

Stories

  • The Assignation
  • Berenice
  • The Black Cat
  • The Cask of Amontillado
  • City In the Sea
  • A Descent into the Maelstrom
  • The Devil in the Belfry
  • The Domain of Arnheim
  • Eleonora
  • The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
  • The Fall of the House of Usher
  • The Gold-Bug
  • The Imp of the Perverse
  • The Island of the Fay
  • Landor's Cottage
  • The Masque of the Red Death
  • Mesmeric Revelation
  • The Murders in the Rue Morgue
  • The Oblong Box
  • The Pit and the Pendulum
  • The Premature Burial
  • The Purloined Letter
  • Silence -- a Fable
  • The Tell-Tale Heart
  • The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherezade
  • Von Kempelen and his Discovery
  • William Wilson
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