Edgar Allan Poe
(1809 - 1849)
From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were - I have not seen
As others saw - I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I lov'd, I loved alone.
Edgar was born on 19th January 1809. His parents were actors. Eliza was celebrated,
but David was inept and disappeared before Edgar's first birthday. Edgar
was not quite three when he watched his mother die of tuberculosis.
His adoptive father, John Allan, took him to Edinburgh and then to London,
where he received his first five years of rigorous schooling. John Allan
failed to support Edgar through University and relations between them
soured until Allan died in 1834, disowning Edgar. In 1836 Edgar married
his 13-year-old cousin, Virginia Eliza Clemm, and set up home with her
and her mother in what is now the Bronx.
Independent of mind and spirit, Edgar A Poe founded and edited a number of
literary magazines, and for most of his life was more famous for his criticism
and his championing of American letters, than for his own writing. Poe
did more than any previous writer to establish the American short story
as a distinct genre and, as well as his raising of the horror story to
a high literary standard, he can be credited with pioneering Science Fiction
and with the invention of the modern detective story. Astonishingly, between
1835 and 1842 Poe wrote several stories in which the hero marries his
beautiful cousin, who then gets ill and dies. In January 1842, Virginia
showed the first signs of tuberculosis. Poe achieved his greatest success
as a writer with the publication of The Raven and other poems in
1845, but remained in poverty. Virginia died on 30th January 1847. Edgar
died of tuberculosis and alcohol poisoning in October 1849.
"This death was almost a suicide... a suicide prepared for a long
- Charles Baudelaire.
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