Edgar Allan Poe suffered from financial problems for most of his life. He left the University of Virginia for lack of money (he had a $2000 gambling debt), and
He was the first well-known American to try to live by writing alone and was hampered by the lack of an international copyright law. Publishers often pirated copies of British works rather than paying for new work by Americans.
Poe was often not paid on-time or, sometimes, not at all for his work, and he was forced to beg for financial assistance repeatedly. He worked as a poorly paid editor, and one of his early collections, Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque,
was published in two volumes, though he made little money off of it and it received mixed reviews.
According to one source, Poe received $624 per year for his work as an editor, which also included stories submitted. In another editorial position, he received $50 monthly. In 1833, Poe won a $50 prize from the Baltimore Saturday Visitor for his story, "MS. Found in a Bottle." Ten years later, Poe's classic short story, "The Gold-Bug," won a $100 prize from Philadelphia's Dollar Newspaper. Other payments for his works include:
- Between $9 and $15 for his famous poem, "The Raven," which became "a sensation.
- $56 for "The Murders in the Rue Morgue."
- $12 for "The Masque of the Red Death."
- $38 for "The Pit and the Pendulum."
- $20 for "The Black Cat."
- $10 for "TheTell-Tale Heart."
- $15 for "The Cask of Amontillado."
For many of his articles and stories, he was paid between $1.60 and $5 per printed page. Meanwhile, he had become owner and editor of The Broadway Journal, but it soon failed. He went on a speaking tour in order to promote a new magazine, The Stylus, but it never went to publication. Of the 12 known surviving copies of Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827)--Poe's first book--
In December 2009, one copy sold at Christie's, New York for $662,500, a record price paid for a work of American literature.
All in all, in fourteen years of professional writing, it was estimated that Poe earned approximately $6200.