Edgar Allan Poe
January 19, 1809 - October 7, 1849
Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts in January 19, 1809. Much of his life is a mystery so that it's hard to distinguish fact from fiction in many aspects of it. Having a life full of a lot of sadness, Poe never quite knew his actor parents, having his father leave when he was young and his mother dying when he was 3. He went to live with foster parents, John and Frances Allan. Poe was never really worried about making money, but instead spent much of his time writing poetry. After going to college at the University of Virginia and 1826, Poe found that John Allan had not supplied him with enough money for his schooling so he started to gamble to try to make up the difference. Instead of the gambling helping him pay off his schooling, Poe was left in debt and when he returned home from college he came back to find that his fiance had gotten engaged to another man. These experiences hurt and frustrated Poe and he ended up leaving the Allan family.
Poe wrote his first book, Tamerlane and Other Poems, in 1827 and then his second, Al Aaraaf, Tamberlane, and Minor Poems, in 1829 right before being accepted into West Point, a military academy. He did very well in his studies at West Point, but got kicked out for not doing his duties correctly. Poe then decided to focus fully on his writing and traveled around a bit from places like New York City, to Richmond, to Baltimore looking for opportunities. Poe went back to Richmond in 1835 and worked as a critic for the magazine the Southern Literary Messanger and published his own novel in the magazine in two parts. Poe was released from this job because of his harsh reviews and some say that alcohol partly played in his release as well. In the late 1830's, that's when Poe's writing really started taking off. He published his book, Tamerlane and Other Poems, and other short stories in which he was known for his mysterious tales filled with death and loss. He launched his series of detective stories and won a literary prize in 1843 for "The Gold Bug." Also in 1845, Poe published a poem that is considered one of his greatest works, The Raven.
An excerpt from The Raven.
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more...