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Biography

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Overview (4)

Date of Birth 19 January 1809Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Date of Death 7 October 1849Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Birth NameEdgar Poe
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809, in Boston, Massachusetts. His father, named David Poe Jr., and his mother, named Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe, were touring actors. Both parents died in 1811, and Poe became an orphan before he was 3 years old. He was adopted by John Allan, a tobacco merchant in Richmond, Virginia, and was sent to a boarding school in London, England. He later attended the University of Virginia for one year, but dropped out and ran up massive gambling debts after spending all of his tuition money. John Allan broke off Poe's engagement to his fiancée Sarah Royster. Poe was heartbroken, traumatized, and broke. He had no way out and enlisted in the army in May of 1827. At the same time Poe published his first book, "Tamerlane and Other Poems" (1827). In 1829, he became a West Point cadet, but was dismissed after 6 months for disobedience. By that time he published "Al Aaraf" (1929) and "Poems by Edgar A. Poe" (1831), with the funds contributed by his fellow cadets. His early poetry, though written in the manner of Lord Byron, already shows the musical effects of his verses.

Poe moved in with his widowed aunt, Maria Clemm, and her teenage daughter, Virginia Eliza Clemm, whom he married before she was 14 years old. He earned respect as a critic and writer. In his essays "The Poetic Principle" and "The Philosophy of Composition," Poe formulated important literary theories. But his career suffered from his compulsive behavior and from alcoholism. He did produce, however, a constant flow of highly musical poems, of which "The Raven" (1845) and "The Bells" (1849) are the finest examples. Among his masterful short stories are "Ligeia" (1838), "The Fall of the House of Usher"(1839) and "The Masque of the Red Death". Following his own theory of creating "a certain unique or single effect", Poe invented the genre of the detective story. His works: "The Murder in the Rue Morgue" (1841) is probably the first detective story ever published.

Just when his life began to settle, Poe was devastated by the death of his wife Virginia in 1847. Two years later he returned to Richmond and resumed a relationship with his former fiancée, Sarah Royster, who, by that time, was a widow. But shortly after their happy reconciliation he was found unconscious on a street in Baltimore. Poe was taken to the Washington College Hospital where Doctor John Moran diagnosed "lesions on the brain" (the Doctor believed Poe was mugged). He died 4 days later, briefly coming in and out of consciousness, just to whisper his last words, "Lord, help my poor soul." The real cause of his death is still unknown and his death certificate has disappeared. Poe's critic and personal enemy, named Rufus Griswold, published an insulting obituary; later he visited Poe's home and took away all of the writer's manuscripts (which he never returned), and published his "Memoir" of Poe, in which he forged a madman image of the writer.

The name of the woman in Poe's poem "Annabel Lee" was used by Vladimir Nabokov in 'Lolita' as the name for Humbert's first love, Annabelle Leigh. Nabokov also used in 'Lolita' some phrases borrowed from the poem of Edgar Allan Poe. "The Fall of the House of Usher" was set to music by Claude Debussy as an opera. Sergei Rachmaninoff created a musical tribute to Poe by making his favorite poem "The Bells" into the eponymous Choral Symphony.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov

Spouse (1)

Virginia Clemm (15 August 1835 - 20 January 1847) (her death)

Trade Mark (3)

Dark, depressing imagery
Often wrote about the macabre
Almost always wore black

Trivia (22)

Has two siblings; brother William and sister Rosalie. His parents, David Poe Jr. and Elizabeth Arnold Poe, were touring actors.
Studied in England during the years 1815-1820.
Poe didn't earn a cent from his most famous poem, "The Raven", having published it first in a newspaper for free and thereby losing any and all future copyright monies. The original title of "The Raven" was "To Lenore" but upon having dinner with Charles Dickens and learning of the great writer's recently deceased pet bird, which just happened to be a raven, Poe reworked the poem to include the black bird as a central figure. Poe wrote "The Raven" with the intent of creating what he called an "adult fairy tale" and when asked why he didn't start the poem with the traditional "Once upon a time" but used "Once upon a midnight dreary" Poe replied, "In my 'time' it's always 'midnight dreary.'" All of Poe's stories took place at night, or if a day scene was required, it was the bleakest, foulest day of the year.
Born Edgar Poe, raised in Richmond, Virginia, by the Allan family.
Virginia Clemm (b.1822) was his cousin/niece.
Pictured on a 3¢ US postage stamp in the Famous Americans/Poets series, issued 7 October 1949.
Appears on sleeve of The Beatles' "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".
Considered by many to have invented the American horror story, science fiction, and the detective story.
The Edgar Awards for mystery literature was named in honor of his writing.
Was a sergeant major at West Point.
Wrote the first modern detective story.
There is some mystery surrounding the actual conditions of his death. In October 1849, he was found lying in a gutter, drunk, barely conscious and wearing someone else's clothing. He died shortly thereafter of apparent alcohol poisoning. However, some historians believe that there may have been other reasons for his untimely demise. The most common theory is that he was a victim of a political kidnapping and made to vote in a local mayoral election while dressed up in different clothes and under the influence of massive amounts of alcohol, so that he would not remember anything. Others believe that he may have had a massive brain tumor that led to a stroke; this theory is aided somewhat by the fact that Poe had a rather large, oddly-shaped head.
Every year on the date of Poe's birthday, a mystery man leaves a bottle of cognac and roses on Poe's grave in Baltimore, Maryland.
The NFL franchise Baltimore Ravens are named so because of his famous poem, "The Raven". He, of course, was from Baltimore.
In the September 1996 edition of the "Maryland Medical Journal," Physician R. Michael Benitez -- who ran the coronary care unit at the Baltimore V.A. Medical Center and taught at the University of Maryland Medical Center -- published his conclusion that Poe died of rabies contracted via an animal bite, probably from a pet cat. Poe's symptoms and death indicate he suffered from rabies, a viral encephalitis that attacks the brain and central nervous system. Rabies -- which is transmitted from the saliva of an infected animal to the open wound of a new host -- is characterized by wide fluctuations in pulse, perspiration, delirium, coma and confusion. A patient typically seems to recover, then suffers a relapse. The clinical course of rabies is four days, after which the patient dies without treatment. These were Poe's symptoms, and his case lasted four days before he died. According to Benitez, only twice in recorded history has anyone survived rabies, and "they weren't quite the same people they were before" as rabies causes irrevocable brain damage. Poe kept cats, and although there is no record of his ever having been bitten, Benitez noted that only 27 percent of recent rabies victims ever remembered the bite. The incubation period can last up to a year. In Poe's time, there was no treatment for rabies, which was invariably fatal. For Poe, it was almost a case of life (and death) imitating art, an end as inevitable and as gruesome as the sufferings of his tortured characters.
Poe met Charles Dickens during the Englishman's 1842 tour of America. On March 6, 1842, Poe and Dickens arranged to meet while he was in Philadelphia. Dickens had been greatly impressed by Poe's ability to guess the ending of his 1841 serialized novel "Barnaby Rudge". In the "Saturday Evening Post" edition of May 1841, Poe had reviewed the work, which was being published serially in a magazine a chapter at a time. At the meeting, Dickens agreed to consider writing for the magazine that Poe edited, "Graham's", and to try to find an English publisher for Poe's "Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque". Nothing of substance came from either promise. Curiously, Dickens owned a pet raven named Grip, and he had introduced the loquacious raven into "Barnaby Rudge" as a character. In his May 1841 review, Poe commented on the use of the talking raven, saying the bird should have loomed larger in the plot. Literary experts surmise that the talking raven of "Barnaby Rudge" inspired Poe's most famous poem, "The Raven", published in 1845. After Grip died in 1841, Dickens had the bird mounted. It now resides at the Free Library on Logan Circle in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Many scholars believe that Poe suffered from clinical depression.
Poe desperately wanted to become a Freemason, but the Masons refused to consider him for membership.
When Edgar was two and a half years old, his mother died of tuberculosis. Edgar was raised by Frances Allan, the wife of a Richmond, Virginia merchant who never legally adopted him.
Poe's father abandoned his family shortly after Edgar's birth.
His father was an alcoholic.
Was expelled from West Point for "gross neglect of duty".

Personal Quotes (4)

There lives no man who at some period has not been tormented by an earnest desire to tantalize a listener by circumlocution.
The ingenious are always fanciful, and the truly imaginative never otherwise than analytic.
Experience has shown, and a true philosophy will always show, that a vast - perhaps the larger - portion of the truth arises from the seemingly irrelevant.
Never to suffer would have been never to have been blessed.

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