Edgar Allan Poe - Life and Strife as Macabre's Greatest Poet
Edgar Allan Poe is known far and wide for his dark, gothic musings. His work is acknowledged now as classic and exceptionally authentic.
Much of his writing is centered around death, sorrow, mourning, loss and other such depressing themes. How come?
Having spent years with his work, those of us familiar with the tragic, macabre tales he spun have likely asked this question. His life is the clearest answer.
Though clearly talented as a writer and devoted to his craft, his life was nothing short of a tragedy - progressing through phases of immense loss, sorrow and solitude to an untimely end.
Is it any wonder his writing spoke literal volumes on such topics?
Loss of His Family
Born Edgar Poe to English actor parents in Boston back in 1809; he was exposed, as an infant, to abandonment when his father left him and his mother behind the year after his birth.
Just a year later, his mother succumbed to pulmonary tuberculosis - leaving him an orphan.
He was taken in by a Scottish merchant named John Allan and named Edgar Allan Poe.
From Gambling Addict to University Dropout
Poe went on to register at the University of Virginia in 1826 where he accrued significant gambling debts, much to the displeasure of his foster father.
He'd left his sweetheart, Elmira Royster, behind to study at the university and may have reacted poorly to news of her having married in his absence. He dropped out within a year.
With looming debts he decided to travel to Boston, where he took up odd jobs to make ends meet - writing for a newspaper under the pseudonym "Henri Le Rennet."
Edgar Allan Poe as an Impoverished Enlistee
Poe was quite poor in 1827.
Despite his efforts, work as a writer was sparse and he was driven to consider an unlikely means of supporting himself - joining the Army.
At a mere 18 years of age, he enlisted using the false name of "Edgar A. Perry."
He served at Fort Independence in Boston Harbor and released his first book of poetry that year, though the book went largely unnoticed.
Poe Disowned by His Foster Father
When Poe's foster mother passed away, he traveled to West Point to become a cadet. It was the year of 1830 that saw his foster father remarrying.
The situation progressed poorly, with Poe engaging in many disputes with his foster father over the man's various illegitimate children.
John Allan had had enough and chose to completely disown Poe at this time.
Poe was court-martialed not long thereafter.
Edgar Allan Poe Drunk on the Job
Poe managed to find his way into an assisstant editorial role for the Southern Literary Messenger, a Richmond-based periodical, in 1835.
This stroke of luck was cut short, though, when he was fired from the position on the grounds of alleged drunkenness mere weeks after starting.
Poe then turned his attention to marrying his cousin Virginia who, at the age of only 13, was 13 years his junior.
Despite the age gap, their union must have given him hope enough to tame his drinking habits as he was hired once again as assistant editor at the Southern Literary Messenger, where he worked until 1837.
Poe and the Death of His Wife
It was January of 1842 when Virginia began to succumb to tuberculosis, the same illness that had claimed Poe's mother.
Poe was clearly affected by this grim turn of events and took up drinking once again.
In their cottage home in Fordham, New York (now, the Bronx), Virginia died from the illness, just 5 years after her first symptoms.
Edgar Allan Poe's Own Mysterious Demise
2 years went by as Poe lost himself in ever-worsening depression. He is reputed to have developed quite a drinking problem throughout this period; much worse than before.
On the 3rd of October, Poe raged along the streets of Baltimore - in fear of his life and weak of constitution.
He died in the Washington Medical College 4 days later. However, each and every medical record, even his own death certificate, have been conveniently lost.
Is it by mere coincidence that the man many consider to be the inventor of detective fiction died in a strange and mysterious way?
Edgar Allan poe's Legacy
Despite the terrible struggles and difficulties he faced in life, Poe's legacy lives on to this day.
A major inspiration in romanticism, macabre storytelling, short story writing and even cryptography, he is not likely to be forgotten any time soon.
This goes for his impressive body of written works such as the following classics:
- The Raven (1845)
- The Tell-Tale Heart (1842)
- The Gold-Bug (1842)
- The Black Cat (1843)
- The Fall of the House of Usher (1839)
It is the ghost of Poe's lingering influence that colors much of the world's wealth of macabre and gothic writing.
It is the many ghosts he himself felt haunted by that colored his own life in such intense grayscale.
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