Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

Biography of Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer, editor, and literary critic. He is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and the macabre. He is widely regarded as a central figure of Romanticism in the United States and American literature as a whole, and he was one of the country's earliest practitioners of the short story. Poe is generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre and is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.

Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Poe’s father and mother, both professional actors, died before the poet was three years old, and John and Frances Allan raised him as a foster child in Richmond, Virginia. John Allan, a prosperous tobacco exporter, sent Poe to the best boarding schools and later to the University of Virginia, where Poe excelled academically. After less than one year of school, however, he was forced to leave the university when Allan refused to pay Poe’s gambling debts.

Poe returned briefly to Richmond, but his relationship with Allan deteriorated. In 1827, he moved to Boston and enlisted in the United States Army. His first collection of poems, Tamerlane, and Other Poems, was published that year. In 1829, he published a second collection entitled Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems. Neither volume received significant critical or public attention. Following his Army service, Poe was admitted to the United States Military Academy, but he was again forced to leave for lack of financial support. He then moved into the home of his aunt Maria Clemm and her daughter Virginia in Baltimore, Maryland.

Poe began to sell short stories to magazines at around this time, and, in 1835, he became the editor of the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond, where he moved with his aunt and cousin Virginia. In 1836, he married Virginia, who was fourteen years old at the time. Over the next ten years, Poe would edit a number of literary journals including the Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine and Graham’s Magazine in Philadelphia and the Broadway Journal in New York City. It was during these years that he established himself as a poet, a short story writer, and an editor. He published some of his best-known stories and poems, including “The Fall of the House of Usher," “The Tell-Tale Heart," “The Murders in the Rue Morgue," and “The Raven.” After Virginia’s death from tuberculosis in 1847, Poe’s lifelong struggle with depression and alcoholism worsened. He returned briefly to Richmond in 1849 and then set out for an editing job in Philadelphia. For unknown reasons, he stopped in Baltimore. On October 3, 1849, he was found in a state of semi-consciousness. Poe died four days later of “acute congestion of the brain.” Evidence by medical practitioners who reopened the case has shown that Poe may have been suffering from rabies.

Poe’s work as an editor, a poet, and a critic had a profound impact on American and international literature. His stories mark him as one of the originators of both horror and detective fiction. Many anthologies credit him as the “architect” of the modern short story. He was also one of the first critics to focus primarily on the effect of style and structure in a literary work; as such, he has been seen as a forerunner to the “art for art’s sake” movement. French Symbolists such as Mallarmé and Rimbaud claimed him as a literary precursor. Baudelaire spent nearly fourteen years translating Poe into French. Today, Poe is remembered as one of the first American writers to become a major figure in world literature.

Short stories by Edgar Allan Poe

  1. A Descent Into the Maelstrom
  2. A Predicament
  3. A Tale of Jerusalem
  4. A Tale of the Ragged Mountains
  5. A Voyage to the Moon
  6. Berenice
  7. Bon-Bon
  8. Diddling
  9. Eleonora
  10. Four Beasts in One
  11. Hop-Frog
  12. How to Write a Blackwood Article
  13. King Pest
  14. Landor's Cottage
  15. Ligeia
  16. Lionizing
  17. Loss of Breath
  18. Mellonta Tauta
  19. Mesmeric Revelation
  20. Metzengerstein
  21. Morella
  22. MS. Found in a Bottle
  23. Mystification
  24. Never Bet the Devil Your Head
  25. Shadow
  26. Silence -- a Fable
  27. Some Words with a Mummy
  28. The Angel of the Odd
  29. The Assignation
  30. The Balloon Hoax
  31. The Black Cat
  32. The Business Man
  33. The Cask of Amontillado
  34. The Devil in the Belfry
  35. The Domain of Arnheim
  36. The Duc de L'Omelette
  37. The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
  38. The Fall of the House of Usher
  39. The Gold-Bug
  40. The Imp of the Perverse
  41. The Island of the Fay
  42. The Landscape Garden
  43. The Literary Life of Thingum Bob, Esq.
  44. The Man of the Crowd
  45. The Man That Was Used Up
  46. The Masque of the Red Death
  47. The Murders in the Rue Morgue
  48. The Mystery of Marie Roget
  49. The Oblong Box
  50. The Oval Portrait
  51. The Pit and the Pendulum
  52. The Power of Words
  53. The Premature Burial
  54. The Purloined Letter
  55. The Spectacles
  56. The Sphinx
  57. The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether
  58. The Tell-Tale Heart
  59. The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherezade
  60. Thou Art the Man
  61. Three Sundays in a Week
  62. Von Kempelen and his Discovery
  63. Why the Little Frenchman Wears his Hand in a Sling
  64. William Wilson
  65. X-ing a Paragrab

Essays by Edgar Allan Poe

  1. Old English Poetry
  2. Philosophy of Furniture
  3. The Philosophy of Composition
  4. The Poetic Principle

Poems by Edgar Allan Poe

  1. "The Happiest Day"
  2. A Dream
  3. A Dream Within a Dream
  4. A Paean
  5. A Valentine
  6. Al Aaraaf
  7. Alone
  8. An Acrostic
  9. An Enigma
  10. Annabel Lee
  11. Bridal Ballad
  12. Dream-Land
  13. Dreamland
  14. Dreams
  15. Eldorado
  16. Evangeline
  17. Fairy-Land
  18. For Annie
  19. Israfel
  20. Lenore
  21. Lines on Ale
  22. Romance
  23. Sonnet—To Science
  24. Spirits of the Dead
  25. The Bells
  26. The City in the Sea
  27. The Conqueror Worm
  28. The Haunted Palace
  29. The Raven
  30. The Sleeper
  31. The Valley of Unrest
  32. To -- -- --. Ulalume: A Ballad
  33. To Helen
  34. To My Mother
  35. To One Departed
  36. To One in Paradise
  37. To The River