Edgar Allan Poe Biography

July 30, 2020 by Essay Writer

 Edgar Allan Poe was a distinguished American writer of short stories and poetry. He was a controversial literary editor as well as critic. Poe was best known for his Gothic literature and his association in the American Romantic Movement. His creation of “detective stories” influenced many authors today. Poe was a literary genius and possessed natural talents to write, even at a young age. The tragic occurrences during his childhood and early years, shaped him to be one of the most acclaimed men in American literature.

Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809, in Boston, Massachusetts. He was the second child of three siblings: William Henry Leonard Poe – the eldest – and Rosalie – the youngest. Both his parents, Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins and David Poe Jr., were actors. Although they struggled financially, Poe’s mother was a well-known and praised actress. A few months after Poe was born, the family moved to New York (“Edgar Allan Poe” TheFamousPeople.com). Soon after, David abandoned his family when Poe was only two and a half years old (Meyers 5). The apostasy of Poe’s father was most likely due to his feelings of jealousy towards his wife’s successful career, heavy drinking, short temperament, and lack of responsibility to take care of his children (Meyers 5-6). g

Left alone to take care of two sons, Poe’s mother – pregnant at the time – carried many hardships. Residing in New York, Elizabeth struggled to provide for her children and sustain the family financially (“Edgar Allan Poe” TheFamousPeople.com). Additionally, she had to deal with the constant moving to cheap houses and the demands of her career. As a result of the misfortunes in her life, she gradually became severely ill. Poe would be a witness of the gruesome scenes of his mother slowly dying. He observed the strained and bloody coughs, the abrupt hemorrhages, and his young mother’s body laying on her deathbed. On December 8, 1811, she died of Tuberculosis at the age of twenty-four, leaving her young sons and a daughter behind (Meyers 6-7).

After the death of his mother, Poe was separated from his siblings. Rosalie was adopted by a Richmond merchant, William Mackenzie, and his wife, Jane Scott Mackenzie. William Henry was taken in by their biological grandparents. Lastly, Poe was taken in by the Allans: John Allan, his godfather, and Frances Valentine Allan, his wife. Subsequently, Poe would acquire the middle name of “Allan” (“Edgar Allan Poe” TheFamousPeople.com). Tragically, two weeks after the passing of his mother, several people died in a devastating fire at Richmond Theater – where Poe’s mother would perform. The whole city mourned together, along with Poe, to remember those in the accident and one of the finest contributors to the theater… Elizabeth (Meyers 7).

Considering that Poe lost his mother at a very young age, he possessed great affection for his foster mother and father. Poe was praised as a child and would be exhibited to guests to recite poetry. He attended the finest schools and was brought up as an Episcopalian. In addition, he would visit luxurious resorts with his foster parents and never lacked materialistic things. Despite being raised like a son, Poe was never officially adopted by the Allans. Thus, always felt a void in his heart for a sense of family and paternal figures (Meyers 9).

By alternately being spoiled and scolded, Poe was a confused child. When he was punished at school for being disobedient, he was forced to wear a vegetable around his neck to face humiliation (Meyers 9). He later moved schools and was separated from his foster parents to study abroad in England. Around the same time, the United States was at war with Great Britain. At his new school, he would describe the claustrophobic environment as well as the dismal daily routine he had to endure. Additionally, many teachers would characterize him as a brilliant young boy, but would heavily criticize his parents for spoiling him. They would explain how the Allans allowed Poe to acquire considerable amounts of money, thus, become mischievous (Meyers 12-13).

In 1820, Poe entered the school of Joseph Clarke. After years of study there, Poe – eleven years old at the time – wanted to publish a manuscript volume of poems. However, Clarke advised him not to continue with the publication because he did not want to adulate Poe’s egotism. (Meyers 14-15).

Although Allan supported Poe financially, he discouraged his literary talents in his teenage years. Tensions between the two, developed into a problematic relationship. Allan condemned of Poe’s ambition to become a writer. He believed Poe was not appreciative of his well-being and seemed compelled to take him out of his will. Instead, his foster father wanted him to pursue the family business. As a result, Poe would write poems on the back of his father’s important work papers to persevere his natural calling for writing (“Edgar Allan Poe” Biography.com).

Poe’s childhood was an occurence of unfortunate events. With the abandonment of his father, the death of his mother, the separation from his siblings, the movement of schools and homes, the discouragement of his writing, and the long-lost sense of belonging, all contributed to shape Poe to the writer he is recognized today.   

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