To what extent did Poe Base "The Gold Bug" on experiences in his own life?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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"The Gold-Bug" by Edgar Allan Poe is a delightful yarn, half adventure and half mystery story, that is not intended as portraying realistic everyday events. 

In the story, the narrator has befriended William Legrand, an impoverished descendant of a wealthy New Orleans family. Legrand lives on Sullivan’s Island off the shore of South Carolina. When the narrator visits Legrand, they discuss an exotic insect Legrand has discovered, the gold-bug of the title (that actually functions as a red herring). The scrap of paper on which Legrand draws a picture of the insect turns out to be a map showing the location of the buried treasure of the famous pirate Captain Kidd.

This narrative is not based on Poe's actual life. If Poe had discovered a buried treasure worth millions of dollars, he would not have lived most of his life in poverty or needed to write for a living.