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Edgar Allan Poe: Father of the Modern Mystery Story and Tales of Dark Suspense

Edgar Allan Poe, 1809 - 1849

Edgar Allan Poe, 1809 - 1849

Fun Facts About Edgar Allan Poe

  • Poe was born in Boston, MA
  • His father David Poe was bred as a lawyer, but deeply offended his family by marrying an actress of English birth, Mrs. Elizabeth Hopkins, neé Arnold, and by himself going on the stage. In 1811 he and his wife died, leaving three children — William, Edgar, and a daughter Rosalie — wholly destitute.
  • Edgar was adopted by John Allan, a tobacco merchant of Scottish extraction, seemingly at the request of his wife, who was childless.
  • Poe attended the University of Virginia at Charlottesville in 1826…until he had to drop out due to lack of money. It seems that Poe had a gambling problem, and his foster father got tired of bailing him out.
  • Broke, Poe lied about his age and joined the army. He served two years…and then got himself dismissed by court martial.
  • His life immediately after he left West Point is very obscure, but in 1833 he was living at Baltimore with his paternal aunt, Mrs. Clemm, who was throughout life his protector, and, in so far as extreme poverty permitted, his support.
  • In 1827 Poe had published his first volume of poetry, Tamerlane and other Poems, at Boston. He did not publish under his name, but as “A Bostonian.” In 1831 he published a volume of Poems under his name at New York.
  • In 1833 he won a prize of $100 offered for the best story by the Baltimore Saturday Visitor. He would have won the prize for the best poem if the judges had not thought it wrong to give both rewards to one competitor.
  • The story, MS. found in a Bottle, is one of the most mediocre of his tales, but his success gave him an introduction to editors and publishers, who were attracted by his striking personal appearance and his fine manners, and were also touched by his manifest poverty.
  • His famous poem “The Raven” was published first in 1845, and soon became extraordinarily popular; but Poe only got $10 or $15 for it (the exact amount is often debated.)
  • Poe’s short stories featuring C. Auguste Dupin shaped the modern mystery story so much that Arthur Conan Doyle compared Sherlock Holmes to Dupin, and the Mystery Writers of America give an award named the Edgar—after Poe, of course.
  • Among his masterpieces are the short stories The Pit and the PendulumThe Murders in the Rue MorgueThe Masque of the Red DeathThe Fall of the House of Usher, and The Gold Bug.
  • In 1835 he married his cousin, Virginia Clemm, a beautiful girl of fourteen years of age. A false statement as to her age was made at the time of the marriage. She died after a long decline in 1847.
  • Poe made two attempts to marry women of fortune — Mrs. Whitman and Mrs. Shelton. The first of these engagements was broken off. The second was terminated by his death.
  • Poe died of tuberculosis on October 7th, 1849 in Baltimore, MD
  • Poe’s bizarre life didn’t stop just because he died in 1849. He was buried in an unmarked grave, and when gossip finally led to a stone being ordered, it was destroyed in a train accident.
  • Ever since 1949, someone has left a bottle of cognac and some roses on Poe’s grave. Who is leaving these things? And why?
  • Edgar Allen Poe is one of the featured images on the cover of the 1967 Beatles’ album Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. 

 

Special thanks to enotes.com and nndb.com

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