Shedding Light on the Darkness - Edgar Allen Poe
Kennedy \u2013 World Literature 2
many talents. He is a well-known poet, short-story writer, editor, and critic. Edgar Poe was born
to a Scottish-Irish family in Boston, Massachusetts on January 19, 1809. Poe\u2019s parents were both
active in theatre. When Poe was one, his father, David Poe Jr., abandoned his family and when
the young Edgar Poe was 2, his mother died of tuberculosis. Poe was then taken in by a wealthy
tobacco merchant by the name of John Allan. This is where Edgar Poe took the middle name of
Allan. Poe\u2019s middle name is often misspelled as \u2018Allen\u2019 and appears with that spelling in several
different encyclopedias (Wikipedia).
John Allan, Poe\u2019s foster father, became irritated by Poe\u2019s gambling problems and eventually
disowned him from the family. After he was disowned by his foster father, Edgar Allan Poe
joined the U.S. military. Poe\u2019s military career, however, was short-lived. He enlisted in the U.S.
army under the name of Edgar A. Perry and served for two years obtaining the rank of sergeant
At the wishes of his dying wife, John Allan sat down and reconciled with Edgar Allan Poe. His
foster father eventually pressured Poe into attending the prestigious U.S. military academy West
Point and Poe took his oath on July 1, 1830. Poe\u2019s foster father eventually remarried and
reportedly had affairs that led to illegitimate children with other women. Edgar Allan Poe had
several arguments with his foster father over these issues and was eventually disowned a second
time. After this second incidence, Poe was determined to leave West Point. Edgar Allan Poe went
on strike refused to attend any military class, church, or drills and was eventually court-martialed
for disobedience. Edgar Allan Poe was officially discharged from the military in February of
1831 (Foye 94).
In March of 1831, Poe traveled to Baltimore to live with his aunt, brother and cousin. Shortly
after he moved in with his aunt, his brother died of tuberculosis that August. In Baltimore, Poe
gained the favor of a wealthy Baltimorean who introduced him to Thomas W. White, a
newspaper editor. Poe eventually became an assistant editor for the Southern Literary Messenger
in Richmond, Virginia. He was soon out of a job because he was found to be extraordinarily
drunk on the job multiple times. When he returned to live with his aunt and cousin in Baltimore,
he secretly married his cousin Virginia when she was only thirteen-years old.
Several months later, at the request of Thomas White, Poe returned to his job at the Southern
Literary Messenger under the promise of better behavior. Shortly after he was allowed to come
back, Poe returned to his job at the Southern Literary Messenger, the circulation of the small
newspaper increased by five-hundred percent. After living in Richmond with his aunt and cousin,
he publicly married Virginia on May 16, 1836 (Magistrale 87).
Poe\u2019s drinking and depression increased when on January 20, 1842, his wife, Virginia, broke a
blood vessel while playing the piano and singing at the same time. She was diagnosed with
tuberculosis and Poe never really recovered from the news of her illness. Poe\u2019s alcohol
consumption reached dangerous levels after Virginia\u2019s death in 1847. In 1848, Poe would attempt
suicide but it would fail (Magistrale 92).
After Virginia\u2019s death, he tried to court Sarah Helen Whitman but his attempts failed due to his
drinking problem, unpredictable behavior, and mental instability. After being rejected by
Whitman and her mother, Poe tried to court his childhood sweetheart Sarah Elmira Royster.
Edgar Allan Poe died on October 7th, 1849 after being found four days earlier delirious in the
streets of Baltimore. There is quite a mystery surrounding Poe\u2019s death as he was not wearing his
own clothes when he was found and he was shouting out different phrases and names that didn\u2019t
make any sense to any around him. There are several theories about his death that have nothing
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