Life Then Before Edgar Allan Poe
Mysterious vibes flow with this name. Many of us heard this name before but not many know the kind of writing he has done. Edgar Allan Poe, most famously know for writing The Raven, has different writing than most poets we’ve heard about.
Poets usually write about romance or the loss of a special dear one that was close to us, but not quite no one like Poe. Edgar A. Poe had a writing style of romanticizing death and how someone could go insane. Theres a lot of play with words like repeating the same words like Nevermore in The Raven to show how the mental decline of a person that is slowly going into madness. The most common themes in his writing would be typically like a very beautiful young lady that would die in like the poem Annabel Lee. Some of his writings would be about people that were close to him that had passed away for example To Helen. His dark themes are still appraised in modern literature that there is a whole museum dedicated to his life time in the earth and how he lived as a person in the house that he lived in for four years in Richmond, VA.
Edgar Poe was born in January 19, 1809 to actors Eliza Poe and David Poe Jr in Boston, Massachusetts. His home was a broken home. His father left his mother when he was a baby and his mother died of tuberculosis the very next year after David left them. Unfortunate events of how much he has lost when he was very young, but the best poets are inspired always by something in their life. Edgar then began to live with foster parents in Richmond, Virginia. Now this completed his famously renowned name Edgar Allan Poe. John Valentine Allan and his wife Frances owned a tobacco business that was very successful. Edgar Allan Poe grew up there and started to develop his poetic skills that by the age of 13, he was a very creative writer. His foster father didn’t like him writing poems and stories so he would discourage Poe. John Allan would try to push Poe into the business world he created with tobacco, but Poe refused and continued writing. He sometimes would end up writing on the back of papers from the business his foster father owned.
The business excelled but John Allan didn’t give much of the profits of the business for him to go to college. As Poe got older, he decided to go to the University of Virginia in 1826 and excelled in all his classes. Poe enrolled to study language. The only problem there was that there wasn’t enough money to cover the costs of his tuition, so Poe turned into gambling to see if he could get money to cover the costs of his university. Edgar A. Poe started to drink a lot and soon after became an alcoholic. Things turned out badly for him and ended in debt. When things could just get worse, his fiancee Sarah Elmira Royster had cheated on him and decided to be engaged with someone else. In all the frustration and being heartbroken with the news, Edgar A. Poe dropped all his studies and decided to move to Boston..
Poe eventually decided to join the military in 1827 with a false name and age. He has nothing else left since he didn’t finish college and neither had no prior job experience. He couldn’t go back to his foster parents since John and Edgar didn’t quite get along well, so he had no choice. Per usual, he did very well and was later ranked to sergeant major. His love of language was not forgotten and he ended up writing and publishing his first book Tamerlane and other poems under a simple pseudonym, a Bostonian. Edgar still wasn’t satisfied but he was able to leave his position three years early under one condition. Poe got more news of his foster family and heard that Mrs. Allan was suffering from tuberculosis and was bound to her death bed. Sadly, Edgar didn’t make it on time and Mrs. Allan passed away. John Allan finally started to soften up and wanted to reconcile with Edgar. John’s condition was for Poe to attend the West Point Military Academy. John helped Edgar apply to the United States of America Military Academy in West Point. While waiting to get appointed and to be accepted in the Academy, he lived with his grandmother, aunt, brother Henry and youngest cousin, Virginia.
Virginia started to become Edgar’s love interest, besides being so young. Mr. Poe had to leave already to star this new journey at the Military Academy by 1830. Edgar Poe was a cadet in the military academy but had to leave because John Allan had started to refuse to send Poe any money to pay the Academy. In his time there, he was quarreling with his foster father because he had remarried without telling Poe. Rumor says that he stopped doing on what he was being told so he could be dismissed from the Academy because he hated John. He was then disowned from his foster father by 1831 and went to continue on living with his family in Baltimore. By 1834, John Allan died.
Now Poe was so in love with Virginia at the age of 26, so he decided to marry his cousin that was only at the age of 13 (she was practically half his age). It’s weird now, but before that happened frequently. It was purportedly a loving relationship with some debate that it was either romantic or them just being great pals who were married and related. They got married in May 16, 1836.
His writing career was pretty average. It wasn’t like this explicit tragedy like Van Gogh who never got to sell a single piece but there wasn’t a rock at the stardom like Mozart or Justin Bieber. Poe suffered like many authors at the time, at the hand of the publishers who were happy to publish but not so happy to pay. This means that although Poe was one of the first in America to make a living as a writer, it was just barely a living, but his luck started to change when he landed a job as a critic for Richmond newspaper. Maybe it was just bitterness from his past that he had, but Edgar Allan Poe was hard on everyone. He was nicknamed The Tomahawk Man And he literally came after everyone. This made him a lot of enemies but also brought some level of fame. He was like a 19th century Keemstar (I know it’s a bad metaphor). He left the newspaper place in 1837. It was said that his problems with alcohol was a contributor for Poe leaving. Poe also was publishing works like The Tales of the Grotesque and Arabasque which explored the gruesome and thrilling writing style he is best known for today. Poe also published The Murders on the Rue Morgue which is well credited as the detective fiction genre. I honestly just think it’s just a whole lot of monkey business.
Poe moves to New York in 1844. He published a story in the New York Sun that he was on a hot air ballon that went all across the Atlantic Ocean. Edgar then confessed that the whole story was fake, but something much bigger brought him to the raving sensation of the public eye. He reached the peak of his fame in 1845 with his famous poem The Raven that was featured in the New York Evening Mirror. At the same time, Poe was disputing with a fellow poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Poe was accusing him of plagiarism, which with the accusement, there was backlash on Poe. The joy and his newfound fame was short lived as it came with no real change in wealth. He started to fight for the wages of writers to be raised and a copyright law. Worse of all, his wife cousin was dying. She caught the consumption, which is old speak for tuberculosis that everyone got apparently.
There was some gossip going around 1845, the year of The Raven, Poe was rumored to be flirting with another poet, Frances Osgood. Virginia was well aware who Frances Osgood was and she actually liked Osgood. The happy love triangle turned into a quarrelsome quadrilateral. There was another poet, Elizabeth Elliot, who was obsessed with Poe and Poe was like Eww. He literally could do nothing but repeal with scorn. Elliot couldn’t even get into the friend-zone. Elliot was jealous of Osgood and threatened to blackmail her using her flirtatious letters with Poe. Elliot was also sending some letters but getting no response. Poe was like Please, leave me alone and just returned all of her letters to Elliot. Nonetheless, Elliot sent her brother to go get the letters back from Poe, which are letters that she already had. Poe requested some backup from his friends. Considering his history as a flop and a bit of a weirdo, his friends just though that Poe was lying. Then Elliot, the master of spin and home wrecking, said that all of the letters were actually written by Poe.
As ridiculous as the events sound, it put a lot of strain on Virginia Poe while she was sick . It was to a point that as Virginia was on her deathbed, she declared that Elliot had been her murderer. When Virginia died in January 1847, Poe’s life went to a down spiral that never stopped. He later on went to Rhode Island in 1948 to try and flirt with another poet, Sarah Helen Whitman. They were engaged for some time but later broke off the engagement. He did have another triangle between Annie Richmond and Sarah Anna Lewis that helped Poe financially. Poe later on wrote poems about his entanglement for the two woman. In the same year, he published Eureka that was a suppose explanation on the whole universe. Some people found it to be an absolute masterpiece, but others had different opinions of Eureka. September 27, 1849, he left New York to Philadelphia to take up an editing job, but he got safety to Baltimore instead. He reconnected with his childhood love and ex fiancee Elmira Royster. She was a widowed Mrs. Shelton, And spent the rest of his time with her with a few road bumps here and there with his alcoholism.
With all the happy thoughts and happy endings, things got crazy again for Mr. Poe. He was found on a ditch by Joseph W. Walker, a former writer for the Baltimore Sun, was walking to a local tavern to cast his vote. He found Poe in clothes that weren’t his and delirious on October 3rd. Joseph was concerned for the health of the writer, so he asked him if there was anyone that Poe could contact for help. Edgar A. Poe gave him the name of Joseph E. Snodgrass who was a magazine editor and an American Physician. Joseph wrote a letter to Snodgrass for his assistance. The letter said:
Baltimore City, Oct. 3, 1849
There is a gentleman, rather the worse for wear, at Ryan’s 4th ward polls, who goes under the cognomen of Edgar A. Poe, and who appears in great distress, & he says he is acquainted with you, he is in need of immediate assistance.
Yours, in haste,
JOS. W. WALKER
To Dr. J.E. Snodgrass. (Quinn, 638)
He was taken to the Washington College hospital but he never had enough consciousness to explain what had happened to him. He spent his final days suffering with hallucinations. According to Dr. John J. Moran, Mr. Poe would call out the name Reynolds repeatedly on the night before he died. The name still remains a full mystery. On October 7th, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe was pronounced dead. They said that his last words were Lord, help my poor soul.(Meyers, 255) He was buried on the next day of October 8th, 1849 in an unmarked grave that was in the back corner of West Minster Hall and Burying Grounds in Baltimore. His cousin Neilson Poe, purchased a white marble Italian headstone (Quinn) for Edgar, but was later on destroyed after a train derailed and crashed into the monument yard where it was standing. Poe was placed in a cheap coffin that lacked handles, a name plate, cloth lining, and a cushion for his head (Meyers, 256) Not many showed up for his ceremonies since he really didn’t have many friends or relatives anymore. It was a very short burial that only lasted three minutes. The preacher decided not to give a sermon since the crowd was so small. All medical records have been lost, including his death certificate (Bramsback, 1970) Later on, Dr. John J. Moran was proven to not being a reliable source since he would change his story a lot more often than you think.
His death was really mysterious. It was so mysterious that a lot of people speculating and trying to figure out how Edgar Allan Poe died. There are a few theories on what actually caused his death. It ranges from illness to beatings to carbon monoxide poisoning, but one of them is especially interesting. It requires you to know that October 3rd was an Election Day and the ditch that Poe was found in was by a polling station. The 19th century had this form of fraud called cooping, where a victim was kidnapped and forced to vote multiple times under different disguises. These victims were given alcohol or drugs as a reward. This theory explains why Poe was found in new clothes and out of his mind. There was also other theories that he died of rabies which explained why he was so delirious but it just didn’t cover the story well enough. Others said it was a heart attack or the drinking problems that led him to where he was.
1849 saw the end of Edgar and the world didn’t really care much. Even his obituary was really short. It read Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore on Sunday, September 7. This announcement will startle many but few will be grieved by it. (R.W. Griswold) Poe named R. W. Griswold his literary executor, which means that he owned all of Poe’s work. This has to be up there in terms of terrible decisions which Poe made a lot of. Griswold hated Poe so much. In 1850, Griswold published this memoir of Poe, painting him as this depraved drunkard and immoral womanizer. Griswold did everything in his power to destroy Poe’s reputation. Now Griswold didn’t realized that people love a train wreck. He made Poe so much more interesting than this dude with a tiny mustache who likes birds and isn’t Tesla. It is very possible that those memoirs helped solidify Edgar Allan Poe’s place in literary history to this very day.
His legacy is still alive today, his gothic, dark, and romantic poems are still famous today. No, Edgar Allan Poe wasn’t emo, but poe Edgar went through a lot (see what I did there). He was just a poe boy from a poe family ( I did it again, I need to stop). Some people may not enjoy his poetry since most of Poe’s poetry has a lot of metaphors and isn’t straightforward. That’s the fun of poetry.
Bibliography and references
– Miller, John C. Text: John C. Miller, The Exhumations and Reburials of Edgar and Virginia Poe and Mrs. Clemm,” Poe Studies, December 1974, Vol. VII, No. 2, 7:46-47. Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore – Articles – E. A. P.: A Critical Biography (A. H. Quinn, 1941) (Chapter 01), Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore, Dec. 1974, www.eapoe.org/pstudies/ps1970/p1974204.htm.
– Quinn, Arthur (1988). Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography’ (Paperback ed.) Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
– Bramsback, Birgit. The Final Illness and Death of Edgar Allan Poe: An Attempt at Reassessment. Taylor and Francis Online, Tandfonline, 21 July 2008, www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00393277008587456.
– Poe’s Lost Tombstone. Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore – Articles – E. A. P.: A Critical Biography (A. H. Quinn, 1941) (Chapter 01), 1998, www.eapoe.org/balt/poegravs.htm.
– Text: R. W. Griswold, Death of Edgar A. Poe,” New-York Daily Tribune (New York, NY), Vol. IX, No. 156, October 9, 1849, p. 2, Cols. 3-4. Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore – Articles – E. A. P.: A Critical Biography (A. H. Quinn, 1941) (Chapter 01), www.eapoe.org/papers/misc1827/nyt49100.htm.
– Meyers, Jeffrey (1992). Edgar Allan Poe: His Life And His Legacy (Paperback ed.) New York City: Cooper Square Press
– Geiling, Natasha. The (Still) Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe. Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 7 Oct. 2014, www.smithsonianmag.com/history/still-mysterious-death-edgar-allan-poe-180952936/.
– Giordano, Robert. Biography of Edgar Allan Poe. Poestories, poestories.com/biography.php.
– Mercier, Matthew. You Don’t Know Poe: 10 Weird Things About Edgar Allan Poe. Tor.com, 11 Apr. 2018, www.tor.com/2012/05/02/you-dont-know-poe-10-weird-things-about-edgar-allan-poe/.
– Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, et al. Edgar Allan Poe. Encyclop?¦dia Britannica, Encyclop?¦dia Britannica, Inc., 4 Oct. 2018, www.britannica.com/biography/Edgar-Allan-Poe.
– Poe’s Biography | Edgar Allan Poe Museum, www.poemuseum.org/poes-biography.
– Edgar Allan Poe. Google Search, Google, www.google.com/amp/s/www.biography.com/.amp/people/edgar-allan-poe-9443160.
– Edgar Allan Poe. Poets.org, Academy of American Poets, 23 July 2015, m.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/edgar-allan-poe.
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