How did his life prompt him to create stories of such themes?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It should be kept in mind that Edgar Allan Poe was not only a poet, an essayist, a short story writer, and a critic, but that he made most of his income as an editor. As a successful editor he knew what the reading public liked. In Poe's time and still today the reading public likes stories about crimes and mysterious happenings, kidnappings, extortion, disappearances, ghosts, weird tales of all kinds. Poe probably wasn't nearly as morbid as many of his short stories might suggest. He was creating what he thought the public wanted, and sometimes drawing on his own painful emotions for material. The fact that his stories are still so popular today should prove that he understood the public's taste. A good example of a story created for the market is "The Gold Bug." He knew that people are fascinated by stories about buried treasure. Another good example is "The Murders in the Rue Morgue." This was a purely creative effort and not inspired by any morbidity in Poe's character. His life did not necessarily prompt him to create stories about violence, people being buried alive, and other mysterious occurrences. He sold "The Gold Bug" for $100. He sold his poem "The Raven" for $100. He needed a job as an editor to support himself, his young wife, and her mother.


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