Edgar Allan Poe Biography

Edgar Allan Poe Biography

Edgar Allan Poe's life story makes it easy to see where the author got his ideas and how his work relates to his experience. First, his father abandoned the family; then his mother died when he was very young, and his foster father, John Allen, erratically swung between lenience and extreme discipline; finally, Poe married his much younger cousin Virginia, who died at an early age. Is it any wonder, then, that Poe's work focused on the macabre, the bizarre, and the outcast? No. The wonder is that he found a way to make such striking art from his suffering. Before his death at age forty, Edgar Allan Poe raised the American short story to a new level, writing works that completely modernized detective fiction, science fiction, and, of course, the horror story.

Facts and Trivia

  • Poe attended the University of Virginia—until he had to drop out due to lack of money. It seems that Poe had a gambling problem, and his foster father got tired of bailing him out.
  • Broke, Poe lied about his age and joined the army. He served two years before getting himself dismissed by court martial.
  • Poe’s short stories featuring C. Auguste Dupin shaped the modern mystery story so much that Arthur Conan Doyle compared Sherlock Holmes to Dupin, and the Mystery Writers of America give an award named the Edgar—after Poe, of course.
  • Bizarre events related to Poe didn’t stop just because he died in 1849. He was buried in an unmarked grave, and when gossip finally led to a stone being ordered, it was destroyed in a train accident.
  • Ever since 1949, someone has left a bottle of cognac and some roses on Poe’s grave. Who is leaving these things? And why?
Additional Content
  • Biography (History of the World: The 19th Century)
  • Biography (Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)
  • Biography (Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)
  • Biography (Poets and Poetry in America)
  • Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)
  • Biography (Masterpieces of American Literature)
  • Biography
  • Biography
  • Biography

(The entire section is 7114 words.)