What events in Edgar Allan Poe's life influenced his stories? Are there specific instances of events like deaths of people he knew or his own substance abuse that are reflected in individual stories?
Many of the major events in Edgar Allan Poe's life are reflected in his fiction. The basic elements of his biography start with his birth in 1809 to actress Elizabeth Arnold Poe and less successful actor David Poe. Poe's mother died in 1811 and Poe was fostered by John Allan. Poe went to school in both England and the United States but incurred heavy gambling debts in his first year of university, leading to a break with Allan. In subsequent years, Poe began a pattern of gambling and substance abuse, supporting himself as a journalist and writer, but always in precarious financial circumstances.
Poe married Virginia Clemm, who was his cousin and only 13 years old at the time in 1836. Virginia died in 1847 at the age of 24 and Poe died shortly thereafter in 1849 at the age of 40.
Poe's marriage to his very young cousin is echoed in many of his works, where he either praises young girls as sexually attractive, or writes about the death of young women.
"The Fall of the House of Usher" combines the theme of incest with the death of the young sister to whom Roderick is attracted. Dying young women also appear in two of Poe's best known poems, "Annabel Lee" and "The Raven." In "Eleonora" a young man wishes to marry his cousin. In "Ligeia" the young female heroine has, like Poe's wife, contracted a lingering illness that leads to her death. "The Oblong Box" starts with the death of a young wife.