Today, we wish America’s favorite dark romantic a happy 108th birthday! Born to two actors who died before he was three, Edgar Allan Poe was exposed to loss and sadness from an early age. He was left in the foster care of John
and Frances Allen, proprietors of a successful tobacco exporting business. Because their wealth, Poe was able to attending the best schools at every level, eventually attending the University of Virginia. While he excelled in his studies, he was later removed from the university because of his gambling debts.
Poe moved to Boston and enlisted in the United States Army in 1827. That same year, he published his first collection of poems, Tamerlane, and Other Poems and, two years later, his second collection titled Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems. After being asked to leave the United States Military Academy for lack of funds, the poet moved back to Baltimore, Maryland with his aunt and her daughter.
In 1835, Poe began selling his short stories to magazines and became the editor of Southern Literary Magazine. He then married his cousin, Virginia, and continued to edit literary journals such as Gentleman’s Magazine and Broadway Journal. It was during these years that Poe established himself as a poet, publishing some of his most famous stories, including “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “The Raven.”
When Virginia died in 1847, Poe’s struggle with alcoholism and depression worsened. He wondered between Richmond and Philadelphia. On an excursion to Baltimore on October 3, 1849, the poet was found in the street
semi-conscious and died four days later of what was later found out to be rabies.
Through his life, Poe experience great success as well as loss. His career as an editor, poet, and critic have paved the way for horror and detective fiction. Many scholars even credit him as the “architect” for the modern short story. He was a recognized proponent of the “art for art’s sake” movement. International scholars claimed him as a literary precursor. Through his dedication to his craft, Edgar Allen Poe has gone down as the first American writer to become a major figure in world literature.