Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe (/poʊ/; born Edgar Poe; January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American writer, editor, and literary critic. Poe is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and the macabre. He is widely regarded as a central figure of Romanticism in the United States and of American literature as a whole, and he was one of the country's earliest practitioners of the short story. He is generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre and is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction.[1] He was the first well-known American writer to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.[2]

Poe was born in Boston, the second child of actors David and Elizabeth "Eliza" Arnold Hopkins Poe.[3] His father abandoned the family in 1810, and his mother died the following year. Thus orphaned, the child was taken in by John and Frances Allan of Richmond, Virginia. They never formally adopted him, but he was with them well into young adulthood. Tension developed later as John Allan and Poe repeatedly clashed over debts, including those incurred by gambling, and the cost of Poe's secondary education. He attended the University of Virginia but left after a year due to lack of money. Poe quarreled with Allan over the funds for his education and enlisted in the Army in 1827 under an assumed name. It was at this time that his publishing career began with the anonymous collection Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827), credited only to "a Bostonian". Poe and Allan reached a temporary rapprochement after the death of Frances Allan in 1829. Poe later failed as an officer cadet at West Point, declaring a firm wish to be a poet and writer, and he ultimately parted ways with John Allan.

Poe switched his focus to prose and spent the next several years working for literary journals and periodicals, becoming known for his own style of literary criticism. His work forced him to move among several cities, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City. He married Virginia Clemm in 1836, his 13 year-old cousin. In January 1845, Poe published his poem "The Raven" to instant success, but Virginia died of tuberculosis two years after its publication.

Poe planned for years to produce his own journal The Penn (later renamed The Stylus), but he died before it could be produced. He died in Baltimore on October 7, 1849 at age 40; the cause of his death is unknown and has been variously attributed to alcohol, "brain congestion", cholera, drugs, heart disease, rabies, suicide, tuberculosis, and other causes.[4]

Poe and his works influenced literature around the world, as well as specialized fields such as cosmology and cryptography. He and his work appear throughout popular culture in literature, music, films, and television. A number of his homes are dedicated museums today. The Mystery Writers of America present an annual award known as the Edgar Award for distinguished work in the mystery genre.

Edgar Allan Poe
1849 "Annie" daguerreotype of Poe
1849 "Annie" daguerreotype of Poe
BornEdgar Poe
January 19, 1809
Boston, Massachusetts
DiedOctober 7, 1849 (aged 40)
Baltimore, Maryland
Alma materUniversity of Virginia
United States Military Academy
Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe
(m. 1836; died 1847)

Edgar Allan Poe Signature

Life and career

Early life

Edgar Allan Poe Birthplace Boston
This plaque in Boston marks the approximate location[5] where Edgar Poe was born.

He was born Edgar Poe in Boston on January 19, 1809, the second child of English-born actress Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe and actor David Poe Jr. He had an elder brother William Henry Leonard Poe and a younger sister Rosalie Poe.[6] Their grandfather David Poe Sr. had immigrated from County Cavan, Ireland around 1750.[7] Edgar may have been named after a character in William Shakespeare's King Lear which the couple were performing in 1809.[8] His father abandoned the family in 1810,[9] and his mother died a year later from consumption (pulmonary tuberculosis). Poe was then taken into the home of John Allan, a successful merchant in Richmond, Virginia who dealt in a variety of goods, including tobacco, cloth, wheat, tombstones, and slaves.[10] The Allans served as a foster family and gave him the name "Edgar Allan Poe",[11] though they never formally adopted him.[12]

The Allan family had Poe baptized in the Episcopal Church in 1812. John Allan alternately spoiled and aggressively disciplined his foster son.[11] The family sailed to Britain in 1815, and Poe attended the grammar school for a short period in Irvine, Scotland (where John Allan was born) before rejoining the family in London in 1816. There he studied at a boarding school in Chelsea until summer 1817. He was subsequently entered at the Reverend John Bransby's Manor House School at Stoke Newington, then a suburb 4 miles (6 km) north of London.[13]

Poe moved with the Allans back to Richmond, Virginia in 1820. In 1824, he served as the lieutenant of the Richmond youth honor guard as Richmond celebrated the visit of the Marquis de Lafayette.[14] In March 1825, John Allan's uncle and business benefactor William Galt died, who was said to be one of the wealthiest men in Richmond,[15] leaving Allan several acres of real estate. The inheritance was estimated at $750,000 (equivalent to $17,000,000 in 2018).[16] By summer 1825, Allan celebrated his expansive wealth by purchasing a two-story brick home named Moldavia.[17]

Poe may have become engaged to Sarah Elmira Royster before he registered at the University of Virginia in February 1826 to study ancient and modern languages.[18][19] The university was in its infancy, established on the ideals of its founder Thomas Jefferson. It had strict rules against gambling, horses, guns, tobacco, and alcohol, but these rules were generally ignored. Jefferson had enacted a system of student self-government, allowing students to choose their own studies, make their own arrangements for boarding, and report all wrong-doing to the faculty. The unique system was still in chaos, and there was a high dropout rate.[20] During his time there, Poe lost touch with Royster and also became estranged from his foster father over gambling debts. He claimed that Allan had not given him sufficient money to register for classes, purchase texts, and procure and furnish a dormitory. Allan did send additional money and clothes, but Poe's debts increased.[21] He gave up on the university after a year but did not feel welcome returning to Richmond, especially when he learned that his sweetheart Royster had married Alexander Shelton. He traveled to Boston in April 1827, sustaining himself with odd jobs as a clerk and newspaper writer,[22] and he started using the pseudonym Henri Le Rennet during this period.[23]

Military career

Poe was first stationed at Boston's Fort Independence while in the Army.

Poe was unable to support himself, so he enlisted in the United States Army as a private on May 27, 1827, using the name "Edgar A. Perry". He claimed that he was 22 years old even though he was 18.[24] He first served at Fort Independence in Boston Harbor for five dollars a month.[22] That same year, he released his first book, a 40-page collection of poetry titled Tamerlane and Other Poems, attributed with the byline "by a Bostonian". Only 50 copies were printed, and the book received virtually no attention.[25] Poe's regiment was posted to Fort Moultrie in Charleston, South Carolina and traveled by ship on the brig Waltham on November 8, 1827. Poe was promoted to "artificer", an enlisted tradesman who prepared shells for artillery, and had his monthly pay doubled.[26] He served for two years and attained the rank of Sergeant Major for Artillery (the highest rank that a noncommissioned officer could achieve); he then sought to end his five-year enlistment early. He revealed his real name and his circumstances to his commanding officer, Lieutenant Howard. Howard would only allow Poe to be discharged if he reconciled with John Allan and wrote a letter to Allan, who was unsympathetic. Several months passed and pleas to Allan were ignored; Allan may not have written to Poe even to make him aware of his foster mother's illness. Frances Allan died on February 28, 1829, and Poe visited the day after her burial. Perhaps softened by his wife's death, John Allan agreed to support Poe's attempt to be discharged in order to receive an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.[27]

Poe was finally discharged on April 15, 1829, after securing a replacement to finish his enlisted term for him.[28] Before entering West Point, Poe moved back to Baltimore for a time to stay with his widowed aunt Maria Clemm, her daughter Virginia Eliza Clemm (Poe's first cousin), his brother Henry, and his invalid grandmother Elizabeth Cairnes Poe.[29] Meanwhile, Poe published his second book Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems in Baltimore in 1829.[30]

Poe traveled to West Point and matriculated as a cadet on July 1, 1830.[31] In October 1830, John Allan married his second wife Louisa Patterson.[32] The marriage and bitter quarrels with Poe over the children born to Allan out of affairs led to the foster father finally disowning Poe.[33] Poe decided to leave West Point by purposely getting court-martialed. On February 8, 1831, he was tried for gross neglect of duty and disobedience of orders for refusing to attend formations, classes, or church. Poe tactically pleaded not guilty to induce dismissal, knowing that he would be found guilty.[34]

He left for New York in February 1831 and released a third volume of poems, simply titled Poems. The book was financed with help from his fellow cadets at West Point, many of whom donated 75 cents to the cause, raising a total of $170. They may have been expecting verses similar to the satirical ones that Poe had been writing about commanding officers.[35] It was printed by Elam Bliss of New York, labeled as "Second Edition," and including a page saying, "To the U.S. Corps of Cadets this volume is respectfully dedicated". The book once again reprinted the long poems "Tamerlane" and "Al Aaraaf" but also six previously unpublished poems, including early versions of "To Helen", "Israfel", and "The City in the Sea".[36] He returned to Baltimore to his aunt, brother, and cousin in March 1831. His elder brother Henry had been in ill health, in part due to problems with alcoholism, and he died on August 1, 1831.[37]

Publishing career

After his brother's death, Poe began more earnest attempts to start his career as a writer, but he chose a difficult time in American publishing to do so.[38] He was one of the first Americans to live by writing alone[2][39] and was hampered by the lack of an international copyright law.[40] American publishers often produced unauthorized copies of British works rather than paying for new work by Americans.[39] The industry was also particularly hurt by the Panic of 1837.[41] There was a booming growth in American periodicals around this time, fueled in part by new technology, but many did not last beyond a few issues.[42] Publishers often refused to pay their writers or paid them much later than they promised,[43] and Poe repeatedly resorted to humiliating pleas for money and other assistance.[44]

Poe (age 26) obtained a license in 1835 to marry his cousin Virginia Clemm (age 13). They were married for 11 years until her death, which may have inspired some of his writing.

After his early attempts at poetry, Poe had turned his attention to prose. He placed a few stories with a Philadelphia publication and began work on his only drama Politian. The Baltimore Saturday Visiter awarded him a prize in October 1833 for his short story "MS. Found in a Bottle".[45] The story brought him to the attention of John P. Kennedy, a Baltimorean of considerable means. He helped Poe place some of his stories, and introduced him to Thomas W. White, editor of the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond, Virginia. Poe became assistant editor of the periodical in August 1835,[46] but White discharged him within a few weeks for being drunk on the job.[47] Poe returned to Baltimore where he obtained a license to marry his cousin Virginia on September 22, 1835, though it is unknown if they were married at that time.[48] He was 26 and she was 13.

He was reinstated by White after promising good behavior, and he went back to Richmond with Virginia and her mother. He remained at the Messenger until January 1837. During this period, Poe claimed that its circulation increased from 700 to 3,500.[6] He published several poems, book reviews, critiques, and stories in the paper. On May 16, 1836, he and Virginia held a Presbyterian wedding ceremony at their Richmond boarding house, with a witness falsely attesting Clemm's age as 21.[48][49]

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket was published and widely reviewed in 1838.[50] In the summer of 1839, Poe became assistant editor of Burton's Gentleman's Magazine. He published numerous articles, stories, and reviews, enhancing his reputation as a trenchant critic which he had established at the Southern Literary Messenger. Also in 1839, the collection Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque was published in two volumes, though he made little money from it and it received mixed reviews.[51] Poe left Burton's after about a year and found a position as assistant at Graham's Magazine.[52]

In June 1840, Poe published a prospectus announcing his intentions to start his own journal called The Stylus,[53] although he originally intended to call it The Penn, as it would have been based in Philadelphia. He bought advertising space for his prospectus in the June 6, 1840 issue of Philadelphia's Saturday Evening Post: "Prospectus of the Penn Magazine, a Monthly Literary journal to be edited and published in the city of Philadelphia by Edgar A. Poe."[54] The journal was never produced before Poe's death.

Around this time, he attempted to secure a position within the administration of President Tyler, claiming that he was a member of the Whig Party.[55] He hoped to be appointed to the Custom House in Philadelphia with help from President Tyler's son Robert,[56] an acquaintance of Poe's friend Frederick Thomas.[57] Poe failed to show up for a meeting with Thomas to discuss the appointment in mid-September 1842, claiming to have been sick, though Thomas believed that he had been drunk.[58] Poe was promised an appointment, but all positions were filled by others.[59]

Cottage in Fordham (now the Bronx) where Poe spent his last years

One evening in January 1842, Virginia showed the first signs of consumption, now known as tuberculosis, while singing and playing the piano, which Poe described as breaking a blood vessel in her throat.[60] She only partially recovered, and Poe began to drink more heavily under the stress of her illness. He left Graham's and attempted to find a new position, for a time angling for a government post. He returned to New York where he worked briefly at the Evening Mirror before becoming editor of the Broadway Journal, and later its owner.[61] There he alienated himself from other writers by publicly accusing Henry Wadsworth Longfellow of plagiarism, though Longfellow never responded.[62] On January 29, 1845, his poem "The Raven" appeared in the Evening Mirror and became a popular sensation. It made Poe a household name almost instantly,[63] though he was paid only $9 for its publication.[64] It was concurrently published in The American Review: A Whig Journal under the pseudonym "Quarles".[65]

The Broadway Journal failed in 1846,[61] and Poe moved to a cottage in Fordham, New York in what is now the Bronx. That home is now known as the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage, relocated to a park near the southeast corner of the Grand Concourse and Kingsbridge Road. Nearby, he befriended the Jesuits at St. John's College, now Fordham University.[66] Virginia died at the cottage on January 30, 1847.[67] Biographers and critics often suggest that Poe's frequent theme of the "death of a beautiful woman" stems from the repeated loss of women throughout his life, including his wife.[68]

Poe was increasingly unstable after his wife's death. He attempted to court poet Sarah Helen Whitman who lived in Providence, Rhode Island. Their engagement failed, purportedly because of Poe's drinking and erratic behavior. There is also strong evidence that Whitman's mother intervened and did much to derail their relationship.[69] Poe then returned to Richmond and resumed a relationship with his childhood sweetheart Sarah Elmira Royster.[70]


Edgar Allan Poe is buried at Westminster Hall in Baltimore, Maryland (Lat: 39.29027; Long: −76.62333). The circumstances and cause of his death remain uncertain.

On October 3, 1849, Poe was found delirious on the streets of Baltimore, "in great distress, and… in need of immediate assistance", according to Joseph W. Walker who found him.[71] He was taken to the Washington Medical College where he died on Sunday, October 7, 1849 at 5:00 in the morning.[72] He was not coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition and, oddly, was wearing clothes that were not his own. He is said to have repeatedly called out the name "Reynolds" on the night before his death, though it is unclear to whom he was referring. Some sources say that Poe's final words were "Lord help my poor soul".[72] All medical records have been lost, including his death certificate.[73]

Newspapers at the time reported Poe's death as "congestion of the brain" or "cerebral inflammation", common euphemisms for death from disreputable causes such as alcoholism.[74] The actual cause of death remains a mystery.[75] Speculation has included delirium tremens, heart disease, epilepsy, syphilis, meningeal inflammation,[4] cholera,[76] and rabies.[77] One theory dating from 1872 suggests that cooping was the cause of Poe's death, a form of electoral fraud in which citizens were forced to vote for a particular candidate, sometimes leading to violence and even murder.[78]

Griswold's "Memoir"

The day that Edgar Allan Poe was buried, a long obituary appeared in the New York Tribune signed "Ludwig". It was soon published throughout the country. The piece began, "Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it."[79] "Ludwig" was soon identified as Rufus Wilmot Griswold, an editor, critic, and anthologist who had borne a grudge against Poe since 1842. Griswold somehow became Poe's literary executor and attempted to destroy his enemy's reputation after his death.[80]

Griswold wrote a biographical article of Poe called "Memoir of the Author", which he included in an 1850 volume of the collected works. He depicted Poe as a depraved, drunken, drug-addled madman and included Poe's letters as evidence.[80] Many of his claims were either lies or distorted half-truths. For example, it is now known that Poe was not a drug addict.[81] Griswold's book was denounced by those who knew Poe well,[82] but it became a popularly accepted biographical source. This occurred in part because it was the only full biography available and was widely reprinted, and in part because readers thrilled at the thought of reading works by an "evil" man.[83] Letters that Griswold presented as proof were later revealed to be forgeries.[84]

Literary style and themes

Edgar Allan Poe by Samuel S Osgood, 1845
1845 portrait by Samuel Stillman Osgood


Poe's best known fiction works are Gothic,[85] a genre that he followed to appease the public taste.[86] His most recurring themes deal with questions of death, including its physical signs, the effects of decomposition, concerns of premature burial, the reanimation of the dead, and mourning.[87] Many of his works are generally considered part of the dark romanticism genre, a literary reaction to transcendentalism[88] which Poe strongly disliked.[89] He referred to followers of the transcendental movement as "Frog-Pondians", after the pond on Boston Common,[90][91] and ridiculed their writings as "metaphor—run mad,"[92] lapsing into "obscurity for obscurity's sake" or "mysticism for mysticism's sake".[89] Poe once wrote in a letter to Thomas Holley Chivers that he did not dislike Transcendentalists, "only the pretenders and sophists among them".[93]

Beyond horror, Poe also wrote satires, humor tales, and hoaxes. For comic effect, he used irony and ludicrous extravagance, often in an attempt to liberate the reader from cultural conformity.[86] "Metzengerstein" is the first story that Poe is known to have published[94] and his first foray into horror, but it was originally intended as a burlesque satirizing the popular genre.[95] Poe also reinvented science fiction, responding in his writing to emerging technologies such as hot air balloons in "The Balloon-Hoax".[96]

Poe wrote much of his work using themes aimed specifically at mass-market tastes.[97] To that end, his fiction often included elements of popular pseudosciences, such as phrenology[98] and physiognomy.[99]

Literary theory

Poe's writing reflects his literary theories, which he presented in his criticism and also in essays such as "The Poetic Principle".[100] He disliked didacticism[101] and allegory,[102] though he believed that meaning in literature should be an undercurrent just beneath the surface. Works with obvious meanings, he wrote, cease to be art.[103] He believed that work of quality should be brief and focus on a specific single effect.[100] To that end, he believed that the writer should carefully calculate every sentiment and idea.[104]

Poe describes his method in writing "The Raven" in the essay "The Philosophy of Composition", and he claims to have strictly followed this method. It has been questioned whether he really followed this system, however. T.S. Eliot said: "It is difficult for us to read that essay without reflecting that if Poe plotted out his poem with such calculation, he might have taken a little more pains over it: the result hardly does credit to the method."[105] Biographer Joseph Wood Krutch described the essay as "a rather highly ingenious exercise in the art of rationalization".[106]


Raven Manet D2
Illustration by French impressionist Édouard Manet for the Stéphane Mallarmé translation of "The Raven", 1875. Digitally restored.

Literary influence

During his lifetime, Poe was mostly recognized as a literary critic. Fellow critic James Russell Lowell called him "the most discriminating, philosophical, and fearless critic upon imaginative works who has written in America", suggesting—rhetorically—that he occasionally used prussic acid instead of ink.[107] Poe's caustic reviews earned him the reputation of being a "tomahawk man".[108] A favorite target of Poe's criticism was Boston's acclaimed poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who was often defended by his literary friends in what was later called "The Longfellow War". Poe accused Longfellow of "the heresy of the didactic", writing poetry that was preachy, derivative, and thematically plagiarized.[109] Poe correctly predicted that Longfellow's reputation and style of poetry would decline, concluding, "We grant him high qualities, but deny him the Future".[110]

Poe was also known as a writer of fiction and became one of the first American authors of the 19th century to become more popular in Europe than in the United States.[111] Poe is particularly respected in France, in part due to early translations by Charles Baudelaire. Baudelaire's translations became definitive renditions of Poe's work throughout Europe.[112]

Poe's early detective fiction tales featuring C. Auguste Dupin laid the groundwork for future detectives in literature. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle said, "Each [of Poe's detective stories] is a root from which a whole literature has developed.... Where was the detective story until Poe breathed the breath of life into it?"[113] The Mystery Writers of America have named their awards for excellence in the genre the "Edgars".[114] Poe's work also influenced science fiction, notably Jules Verne, who wrote a sequel to Poe's novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket called An Antarctic Mystery, also known as The Sphinx of the Ice Fields.[115] Science fiction author H.G. Wells noted, "Pym tells what a very intelligent mind could imagine about the south polar region a century ago."[116] In 2013, The Guardian cited The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket as one of the greatest novels ever written in the English language, and noted its influence on later authors such as Henry James, Arthur Conan Doyle, B. Traven, and David Morrell.[117]

Like many famous artists, Poe's works have spawned imitators.[118] One trend among imitators of Poe has been claims by clairvoyants or psychics to be "channeling" poems from Poe's spirit. One of the most notable of these was Lizzie Doten, who published Poems from the Inner Life in 1863, in which she claimed to have "received" new compositions by Poe's spirit. The compositions were re-workings of famous Poe poems such as "The Bells", but which reflected a new, positive outlook.[119]

Edgar Allan Poe 2 retouched and transparent bg
1848 "Ultima Thule" daguerreotype of Poe

Even so, Poe has received not only praise, but criticism as well. This is partly because of the negative perception of his personal character and its influence upon his reputation.[111] William Butler Yeats was occasionally critical of Poe and once called him "vulgar".[120] Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson reacted to "The Raven" by saying, "I see nothing in it",[121] and derisively referred to Poe as "the jingle man".[122] Aldous Huxley wrote that Poe's writing "falls into vulgarity" by being "too poetical"—the equivalent of wearing a diamond ring on every finger.[123]

It is believed that only 12 copies have survived of Poe's first book Tamerlane and Other Poems. In December 2009, one copy sold at Christie's, New York for $662,500, a record price paid for a work of American literature.[124]

Physics and cosmology

Eureka: A Prose Poem, an essay written in 1848, included a cosmological theory that presaged the Big Bang theory by 80 years,[125][126] as well as the first plausible solution to Olbers' paradox.[127][128] Poe eschewed the scientific method in Eureka and instead wrote from pure intuition.[129] For this reason, he considered it a work of art, not science,[129] but insisted that it was still true[130] and considered it to be his career masterpiece.[131] Even so, Eureka is full of scientific errors. In particular, Poe's suggestions ignored Newtonian principles regarding the density and rotation of planets.[132]


Poe had a keen interest in cryptography. He had placed a notice of his abilities in the Philadelphia paper Alexander's Weekly (Express) Messenger, inviting submissions of ciphers which he proceeded to solve.[133] In July 1841, Poe had published an essay called "A Few Words on Secret Writing" in Graham's Magazine. Capitalizing on public interest in the topic, he wrote "The Gold-Bug" incorporating ciphers as an essential part of the story.[134] Poe's success with cryptography relied not so much on his deep knowledge of that field (his method was limited to the simple substitution cryptogram) as on his knowledge of the magazine and newspaper culture. His keen analytical abilities, which were so evident in his detective stories, allowed him to see that the general public was largely ignorant of the methods by which a simple substitution cryptogram can be solved, and he used this to his advantage.[133] The sensation that Poe created with his cryptography stunts played a major role in popularizing cryptograms in newspapers and magazines.[135]

Poe had an influence on cryptography beyond increasing public interest during his lifetime. William Friedman, America's foremost cryptologist, was heavily influenced by Poe.[136] Friedman's initial interest in cryptography came from reading "The Gold-Bug" as a child, an interest that he later put to use in deciphering Japan's PURPLE code during World War II.[137]

In popular culture

As a character

The historical Edgar Allan Poe has appeared as a fictionalized character, often representing the "mad genius" or "tormented artist" and exploiting his personal struggles.[138] Many such depictions also blend in with characters from his stories, suggesting that Poe and his characters share identities.[139] Often, fictional depictions of Poe use his mystery-solving skills in such novels as The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl.[140]

Preserved homes, landmarks, and museums

The Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site in Philadelphia is one of several preserved former residences of Poe.

No childhood home of Poe is still standing, including the Allan family's Moldavia estate. The oldest standing home in Richmond, the Old Stone House, is in use as the Edgar Allan Poe Museum (Richmond), though Poe never lived there. The Richmond collection includes many items that Poe used during his time with the Allan family, and also features several rare first printings of Poe works. 13 West Range is the dorm room that Poe is believed to have used while studying at the University of Virginia in 1826; it is preserved and available for visits. Its upkeep is now overseen by a group of students and staff known as the Raven Society.[141]

The earliest surviving home in which Poe lived is in Baltimore, preserved as the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum. Poe is believed to have lived in the home at the age of 23 when he first lived with Maria Clemm and Virginia (as well as his grandmother and possibly his brother William Henry Leonard Poe).[142] It is open to the public and is also the home of the Edgar Allan Poe Society. Of the several homes that Poe, his wife Virginia, and his mother-in-law Maria rented in Philadelphia, only the last house has survived. The Spring Garden home, where the author lived in 1843–1844, is today preserved by the National Park Service as the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site.[143] Poe's final home is preserved as the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage in the Bronx.[67]

In Boston, a commemorative plaque on Boylston Street is several blocks away from the actual location of Poe's birth.[5][144][145][146] The house which was his birthplace at 62 Carver Street no longer exists; also, the street has since been renamed "Charles Street South".[147][148] A "square" at the intersection of Broadway, Fayette, and Carver Streets had once been named in his honor,[149] but it disappeared when the streets were rearranged. In 2009, the intersection of Charles and Boylston Streets (two blocks north of his birthplace) was designated "Edgar Allan Poe Square".[150] In March 2014, fundraising was completed for construction of a permanent memorial sculpture at this location. The winning design by Stefanie Rocknak depicts a life-sized Poe striding against the wind, accompanied by a flying raven; his suitcase lid has fallen open, leaving a "paper trail" of literary works embedded in the sidewalk behind him.[151][152][153] The public unveiling on October 5, 2014 was attended by former US poet laureate Robert Pinsky.[154]

Other Poe landmarks include a building in the Upper West Side where Poe temporarily lived when he first moved to New York. A plaque suggests that Poe wrote "The Raven" here. The bar still stands where legend says that Poe was last seen drinking before his death, in Fell's Point in Baltimore. The drinking establishment is now known as "The Horse You Came In On", and local lore insists that a ghost whom they call "Edgar" haunts the rooms above.[155]


Early daguerreotypes of Poe continue to arouse great interest among literary historians.[156] Notable among them are:

  • "Ultima Thule" (far discovery) to honor the new photographic technique; taken in November 1848 in Providence, Rhode Island, probably by Edwin H. Manchester
  • "Annie", given to Poe's friend Mrs. Annie L. Richmond; probably taken in June 1849 in Lowell, Massachusetts, photographer unknown

Poe Toaster

A bottle of cognac and three roses were left at Poe's original grave marker for decades every January 19 by an unknown visitor affectionately referred to as the "Poe Toaster". Sam Porpora was a historian at the Westminster Church in Baltimore where Poe is buried, and he claimed on August 15, 2007 that he had started the tradition in 1949. Porpora said that the tradition began in order to raise money and enhance the profile of the church. His story has not been confirmed,[157] and some details which he gave to the press are factually inaccurate.[158] The Poe Toaster's last appearance was on January 19, 2009, the day of Poe's bicentennial.[159]

Selected list of works



Other works

See also


  1. ^ Stableford 2003, pp. 18–19
  2. ^ a b Meyers 1992, p. 138
  3. ^ Semtner, Christopher P. (2012). Edgar Allan Poe's Richmond : the Raven in the River City. Charleston [SC]: History Press. p. 15. ISBN 9781609496074. OCLC 779472206.
  4. ^ a b Meyers 1992, p. 256
  5. ^ a b "Poe & Boston: 2009". The Raven Returns: Edgar Allan Poe Bicentennial Celebration. The Trustees of Boston College. Archived from the original on July 30, 2013. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  6. ^ a b Allen 1927
  7. ^ Quinn 1998, p. 13
  8. ^ Nelson 1981, p. 65
  9. ^ Canada 1997
  10. ^ Meyers 1992, p. 8
  11. ^ a b Meyers 1992, p. 9
  12. ^ Quinn 1998, p. 61
  13. ^ Silverman 1991, pp. 16–18
  14. ^ PoeMuseum.org 2006
  15. ^ Meyers 1992, p. 20
  16. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  17. ^ Silverman 1991, pp. 27–28
  18. ^ Silverman 1991, pp. 29–30
  19. ^ University of Virginia. A Catalogue of the Officers and Students of the University of Virginia. Second Session, Commencing February 1st, 1826. Charlottesville, VA: Chronicle Steam Book Printing House, 1880, p. 10
  20. ^ Meyers 1992, pp. 21–22
  21. ^ Silverman 1991, pp. 32–34
  22. ^ a b Meyers 1992, p. 32
  23. ^ Silverman 1991, p. 41
  24. ^ Cornelius 2002, p. 13
  25. ^ Meyers 1992, pp. 33–34
  26. ^ Meyers 1992, p. 35
  27. ^ Silverman 1991, pp. 43–47
  28. ^ Meyers 1992, p. 38
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  • Koster, Donald N. (2002). "Influences of Transcendentalism on American Life and Literature". In Galens, David. Literary Movements for Students Vol. 1. Detroit: Thompson Gale.
  • Krutch, Joseph Wood (1926). Edgar Allan Poe: A Study in Genius. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. (1992 reprint: ISBN 978-0-7812-6835-6)
  • Lake, Matt (2006). Weird Maryland. New York: Sterling Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4027-3906-4.
  • Ljunquist, Kent (2002). "The poet as critic". In Hayes, Kevin J. The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 7–20. ISBN 978-0-521-79727-6.
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  • Ostram, John Ward (1987). "Poe's Literary Labors and Rewards". In Fisher, Benjamin Franklin IV. Myths and Reality: The Mysterious Mr. Poe. Baltimore: The Edgar Allan Poe Society. pp. 37–47. ISBN 978-0-9616449-1-8.
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  • Sova, Dawn B. (2001). Edgar Allan Poe A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work (Paperback ed.). New York: Checkmark Books. ISBN 978-0-8160-4161-9.
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  • Tresch, John (2002). "Extra! Extra! Poe invents science fiction". In Hayes, Kevin J. The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 113–132. ISBN 978-0-521-79326-1.
  • Van Hoy, David C. (February 18, 2007). "The Fall of the House of Edgar". The Boston Globe.
  • Walsh, John Evangelist (2000) [1968]. Poe the Detective: The Curious Circumstances behind 'The Mystery of Marie Roget'. New York: St. Martins Minotaur. ISBN 978-0-8135-0567-1. (1968 edition printed by Rutgers University Press)
  • Weekes, Karen (2002). "Poe's feminine ideal". In Hayes, Kevin J. The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 148–162. ISBN 978-0-521-79326-1.
  • Whalen, Terance (2001). "Poe and the American Publishing Industry". In Kennedy, J. Gerald. A Historical Guide to Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 63–94. ISBN 978-0-19-512150-6.
  • Wilbur, Richard (1967). "The House of Poe". In Regan, Robert. Poe: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-13-684963-6.

Further reading

  • Ackroyd, Peter (2008). Poe: A Life Cut Short. London: Chatto & Windus. ISBN 978-0-7011-6988-6.
  • Bittner, William (1962). Poe: A Biography. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-09686-7.
  • George Washington Eveleth (1922). Thomas Ollive Mabbott, ed. The letters from George W. Eveleth to Edgar Allan Poe. Volume 26 of Bulletin of the New York Public Library (reprint ed.). The New York Public Library.
  • Hutchisson, James M. (2005). Poe. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1-57806-721-3.
  • Poe, Harry Lee (2008). Edgar Allan Poe: An Illustrated Companion to His Tell-Tale Stories. New York: Metro Books. ISBN 978-1-4351-0469-3.
  • Pope-Hennessy, Una (1934). Edgar Allan Poe, 1809–1849: A Critical Biography. New York: Haskell House.
  • Robinson, Marilynne, "On Edgar Allan Poe", The New York Review of Books, vol. LXII, no. 2 (February 5, 2015), pp. 4, 6.

External links

Annabel Lee

"Annabel Lee" is the last complete poem composed by American author Edgar Allan Poe. Like many of Poe's poems, it explores the theme of the death of a beautiful woman. The narrator, who fell in love with Annabel Lee when they were young, has a love for her so strong that even angels are envious. He retains his love for her even after her death. There has been debate over who, if anyone, was the inspiration for "Annabel Lee". Though many women have been suggested, Poe's wife Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe is one of the more credible candidates. Written in 1849, it was not published until shortly after Poe's death that same year.

Dark romanticism

Dark Romanticism is a literary subgenre of Romanticism, reflecting popular fascination with the irrational, the demonic and the grotesque. Often conflated with Gothicism, it has shadowed the euphoric Romantic movement ever since its 18th-century beginnings. Edgar Allan Poe is often celebrated as one of the supreme exponent of the tradition.

Death of Edgar Allan Poe

The death of Edgar Allan Poe on October 7, 1849, has remained mysterious, the circumstances leading up to it are uncertain and the cause of death is disputed. On October 3, the American author was found delirious in Baltimore, Maryland, "in great distress, and ... in need of immediate assistance", according to the man who found him, Joseph W. Walker. He was taken to the Washington College Hospital, where he died at 5 a.m. on Sunday, October 7. He was 40 years old. Poe was never coherent enough to explain how he came to be in this condition.

Much of the extant information about the last few days of Poe's life comes from his attending physician, Dr. John Joseph Moran, though his credibility is questionable. Poe was buried after a small funeral at the back of Westminster Hall and Burying Ground, but his remains were moved to a new grave with a larger monument in 1875. The newer monument also marks the burial place of Poe's wife, Virginia, and his mother-in-law, Maria. Theories as to what caused Poe's death include suicide, murder, cholera, hypoglycemia, rabies, syphilis, influenza, and that Poe was a victim of cooping. Evidence of the influence of alcohol is strongly disputed.After Poe's death, Rufus Wilmot Griswold wrote his obituary under the pseudonym "Ludwig". Griswold, who became the literary executor of Poe's estate, was actually a rival of Poe and later published his first full biography, depicting him as a depraved, drunk, drug-addled madman. Much of the evidence for this image of Poe is believed to have been forged by Griswold, and though friends of Poe denounced it, this interpretation had lasting impact.

Edgar Allan Poe (Maryland attorney general)

Edgar Allan Poe (September 15, 1871 – November 29, 1961) was Attorney General of the State of Maryland from 1911 to 1915. He was born in Baltimore, the son of former Maryland Attorney General John Prentiss Poe. He was named for his second cousin, twice removed, the celebrated author Edgar Allan Poe, who died in 1849.

Edgar Allan Poe Cottage

The Edgar Allan Poe Cottage (or Poe Cottage) is the former home of American writer Edgar Allan Poe. It is located on Kingsbridge Road and the Grand Concourse in the Fordham neighborhood of the Bronx, New York, a short distance from its original location, and is now in the northern part of Poe Park.

The cottage is a part of the Historic House Trust, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been administered by the Bronx County Historical Society since 1975, and is believed to have been built in 1797.

Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum

The Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum, located at 203 North Amity St. in Baltimore, Maryland, is the former home of American writer Edgar Allan Poe in the 1830s. The small unassuming structure, which was opened as a writer's house museum in 1949, is a typical row home. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1972.Due to a loss of funding by the city of Baltimore, the Museum closed to the public in October 2012. Poe Baltimore, the Museum's new governing body, reopened the Museum to the public on October 5, 2013.

Edgar Allan Poe Museum (Richmond, Virginia)

The Edgar Allan Poe Museum is a museum located in the Shockoe Bottom neighborhood of Richmond, Virginia, dedicated to American writer Edgar Allan Poe. Though Poe never lived in the building, it serves to commemorate his time living in Richmond. The museum holds one of the world's largest collections of original manuscripts, letters, first editions, memorabilia and personal belongings. The museum also provides an overview of early 19th century Richmond, where Poe lived and worked. The museum features the life and career of Edgar Allan Poe by documenting his accomplishments with pictures, relics, and verse, and focusing on his many years in Richmond.

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site

The Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site is a preserved home once rented by American author Edgar Allan Poe, located at 532 N. 7th Street, in the Spring Garden neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Though Poe lived in many houses over several years in Philadelphia (1837 to 1844), it is the only one which still survives. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962.

Edgar Allan Poe and music

The influence of Edgar Allan Poe on the art of music has been considerable and long-standing, with the works, life and image of the horror fiction writer and poet inspiring composers and musicians from diverse genres for more than a century.

Edgar Allan Poe bibliography

The works of American author Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) include many poems, short stories, and one novel. His fiction spans multiple genres, including horror fiction, adventure, science fiction, and detective fiction, a genre he is credited with inventing. These works are generally considered part of the Dark romanticism movement, a literary reaction to Transcendentalism. Poe's writing reflects his literary theories: he disagreed with didacticism and allegory. Meaning in literature, he said in his criticism, should be an undercurrent just beneath the surface; works whose meanings are too obvious cease to be art. Poe pursued originality in his works, and disliked proverbs. He often included elements of popular pseudosciences such as phrenology and physiognomy. His most recurring themes deal with questions of death, including its physical signs, the effects of decomposition, concerns of premature burial, the reanimation of the dead, and mourning. Though known as a masterly practitioner of Gothic fiction, Poe did not invent the genre; he was following a long-standing popular tradition.Poe's literary career began in 1827 with the release of 50 copies of Tamerlane and Other Poems credited only to "a Bostonian", a collection of early poems that received virtually no attention. In December 1829, Poe released Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems in Baltimore before delving into short stories for the first time with "Metzengerstein" in 1832. His most successful and most widely read prose during his lifetime was "The Gold-Bug", which earned him a $100 prize, the most money he received for a single work. One of his most important works, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue", was published in 1841 and is today considered the first modern detective story. Poe called it a "tale of ratiocination". Poe became a household name with the publication of "The Raven" in 1845, though it was not a financial success. The publishing industry at the time was a difficult career choice and much of Poe's work was written using themes specifically catered for mass market tastes.

Edgar Allan Poe in popular culture

Edgar Allan Poe has appeared in popular culture as a character in books, comics, film, and other media. Besides his works, the legend of Poe himself has fascinated people for generations. His appearances in popular culture often envision him as a sort of "mad genius" or "tormented artist", exploiting his personal struggles. Many depictions of Poe interweave elements of his life with his works, in part due to Poe's frequent use of first-person narrators, suggesting an erroneous assumption that Poe and his characters are identical.This article focuses specifically on the historical Edgar Allan Poe making appearances in fiction, television, and film.

Edgar Allan Poe in television and film

American poet and short story writer Edgar Allan Poe has had significant influence in television and film. Many are adaptations of Poe's work, others merely reference it.

Edgar Award

The Edgar Allan Poe Awards (popularly called the Edgars), named after Edgar Allan Poe, are presented every year by the Mystery Writers of America, based in New York City. They honor the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, television, film, and theater published or produced in the previous year.

Maelzel's Chess Player

"Maelzel's Chess Player" (1836) is an essay by Edgar Allan Poe exposing a fraudulent automaton chess player called The Turk, which had become famous in Europe and the United States and toured widely. The fake automaton was invented by Wolfgang von Kempelen in 1769 and was brought to the U.S. in 1825 by Johann Nepomuk Mälzel after von Kempelen's death.

Although it is the most famous essay on the Turk, many of Poe's hypotheses were incorrect. He also may or may not have been aware of earlier articles written in the Baltimore Gazette where two youths were reported to have seen chess player William Schlumberger climbing out of the machine. He did, however, borrow heavily from David Brewster's Letters on Natural Magic. Other essays and article had been written and published prior to Poe's in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Boston—cities in which Poe had lived or visited before writing his essay.

Poems by Edgar Allan Poe

This article lists all known poems by American author and critic Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849), listed alphabetically with the date of their authorship in parentheses.

The Black Cat (short story)

"The Black Cat" is a short story by American writer Edgar Allan Poe. It was first published in the August 19, 1843, edition of The Saturday Evening Post. It is a study of the psychology of guilt, often paired in analysis with Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart". In both, a murderer carefully conceals his crime and believes himself unassailable, but eventually breaks down and reveals himself, impelled by a nagging reminder of his guilt.

The Devil in the Belfry

"The Devil in the Belfry" is a satirical short story by Edgar Allan Poe. It was first published in 1839.

The Raven

"The Raven" is a narrative poem by American writer Edgar Allan Poe. First published in January 1845, the poem is often noted for its musicality, stylized language, and supernatural atmosphere. It tells of a talking raven's mysterious visit to a distraught lover, tracing the man's slow fall into madness. The lover, often identified as being a student, is lamenting the loss of his love, Lenore. Sitting on a bust of Pallas, the raven seems to further distress the protagonist with its constant repetition of the word "Nevermore". The poem makes use of folk, mythological, religious, and classical references.

Poe claimed to have written the poem logically and methodically, intending to create a poem that would appeal to both critical and popular tastes, as he explained in his 1846 follow-up essay, "The Philosophy of Composition". The poem was inspired in part by a talking raven in the novel Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty by Charles Dickens. Poe borrows the complex rhythm and meter of Elizabeth Barrett's poem "Lady Geraldine's Courtship", and makes use of internal rhyme as well as alliteration throughout.

"The Raven" was first attributed to Poe in print in the New York Evening Mirror on January 29, 1845. Its publication made Poe popular in his lifetime, although it did not bring him much financial success. The poem was soon reprinted, parodied, and illustrated. Critical opinion is divided as to the poem's literary status, but it nevertheless remains one of the most famous poems ever written.

The Tell-Tale Heart

"The Tell-Tale Heart" is a short story by American writer Edgar Allan Poe, first published in 1843. It is relayed by an unnamed narrator who endeavors to convince the reader of the narrator’s sanity while simultaneously describing a murder he committed. The victim was an old man with a filmy "vulture-eye", as the narrator calls it. The narrator emphasizes the careful calculation of the murder, attempting the perfect crime, complete with dismembering and hiding the body under the floorboards. Ultimately, the narrator's feelings of guilt, or a mental disturbance, result in hearing a thumping sound, which the narrator interprets as the dead man's beating heart.

The story was first published in James Russell Lowell's The Pioneer in January 1843. "The Tell-Tale Heart" is often considered a classic of the Gothic fiction genre and is one of Poe's best known short stories.

The specific motivation for murder (aside from the narrator's dislike of the old man's eye), the relationship between narrator and old man, the gender of the narrator and other details are left unclear. The narrator denies having any feelings of hatred or resentment for the man who had, as stated, never wronged them. The narrator also denies having killed for greed.

It has been speculated that the old man is a father figure, the narrator's landlord, or that the narrator works for the old man as a servant, and that perhaps his "vulture-eye" represents some sort of veiled secret, or power. The ambiguity and lack of details about the two main characters stand in stark contrast to the specific plot details leading up to the murder.

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