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Many scholars and readers have speculated that Edgar Allan Poe wrote Annabel Lee about his wife Virginia. She had passed on two years before the poem was written in 1849. This may explain why Poe gave copies to various people and a magazine at the time, almost as a way to make sure that the poem would be published. Then again, Poe may have just written Annabel Lee as a continuation of his commonly used theme of death to a beautiful woman. Some people speculate that this theme is mirrored by the death of Poe's mother, step mother and his young wife Virginia.
On a broader scope, the poem also deals with social injustice and the denial of basic rights to certain underprivileged people. The abolition of slavery in the South was still a few years away, so some critics consider this a statement against racism as well as a personal statement of loss. Check out the following references, which give more information concerning this aspect.
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