Happy Birthday, Edgar Allan Poe

Today is the birthday of my favorite poet, Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849). Born in Boston into a family of actors, he was orphaned in 1811 after his father left and his mother died. He was raised by John and Francis Allan in Richmond, Virginia, but never was formally adopted. The relationship eventually became strained over financial matters. Poe was a student at the University of Virginia for a year, but couldn’t continue when money ran out. He also tried the Army, but failed as a West Point cadet.

Poe was able to make a living as a writer, editor, and literary critic. One of his specialties was the short story; he is considered the father of the detective story and was an early pioneer in science fiction. But he’s probably best known for his poetry; The Raven (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48860/the-raven)” is arguably the finest poem ever written. Sheer poetry!

He led a particularly difficult life, even for his time. Writing may have brought him eventual fame, but certainly never fortune. At age 27, he married his 13-year-old cousin, Virginia Clemm, who died of tuberculosis 11 years later. Her death is thought to have heavily influenced his writing.

Poe died on October 7, 1849 in Baltimore’s Washington Medical College after having been found incoherent on the streets the preceding day. The cause of death has never been firmly established, although his writing had been hampered for some time by heavy drinking and erratic behavior. He had the further misfortune of having his obituary and a biography written by a rival.

Poe’s life may have been relatively short and difficult, and his personal flaws may have provided maddeningly serious obstacles, but never was a writer more talented, more influential, or more misunderstood.

Fore more on Edgar Allan Poe, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Allan_Poe. Poe’s “Top 10 Quotes” (from which the heading has been taken) can be found at https://www.brainyquote.com/lists/authors/top_10_edgar_allan_poe_quotes .

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