Edgar Allan Poe – American author

Edger Allan Poe is one American author whose name is known to almost everyone. Edgar is known for his elegant poems and for being a tough critic of refined tastes, but also for being the first master of the short story form, especially tales of mystery. He has a talent of having an extraordinary hold upon the readers imagination and not letting lose. Many advents of Edgar’s life has probably led to the strange, but successful and renowned pieces of American literature. On January 19th 1809, Eliza Arnold Poe gave birth to her second child, Edgar Poe, in Boston, Massachusetts.

Eliza was a very talented actress who was very devoted to her acting. She had made her debut at the age of nine and was much praised for her talent and maturity, as well as her beauty and charm. David Poe who had begun acting after meeting Eliza was ridiculed by the press for his acting unlike his wife. David, ashamed of his unsuccessfulness and shadowed by his more famous wife, left her and their now three kids. Eliza, unable to support her three children alone, became a charity case. In October of 1811 she gave up acting when she became seriously ill. On December 8th, 1811, at age 24 Eliza Poe died leaving her three children without homes.

Frances Allan, one woman who had been part of the charity helping Eliza, had convinced her husband John Allan to let them take little Edgar in, but they never formally adopted him. John had promised David Poe’s relatives that Edgar would receive a proper and good education. John sent Edgar at the age of five to a teacher named Clotilda Fisher and then after that to William Ewing, the Richmond School master. Mr. Ewing noted that Edgar was quite charming and enjoyed school. The Allans decided to move their tobacco trading company to London where the tobacco industry had been in a depression.

Edgar receive his first formal education in London. He was at first sent to board with Mrs. Doubourg, which was only 3 miles from where the Allans lived. Later he was sent to board with reverend John Bransby, at Stoke Newington where he studied among the obvious, Latin and dance. John who was very preoccupied with his business, neglected Edgar and Mrs Allan, didn’t help his feeling of neglect any better due to her frequently getting ill. The tobacco industry collapsed after only three years of their stay, and the Allans were forced to return to New York on July 21st, 1820.

The Allans moved around a lot during Edgar’s early teens. When they finally settled into a house given to them by William Galt, Edgar’s Uncle he continued his education. He attended the academy of Joseph H. Clarke, and then studied with William Burke, Clarke’s successor. Edgar did very well in Language as well as Latin and French and at sixteen he wrote one of this first poems that is known. Not only was Edgar good at his studies but he was quite athletic as well. Edgar was an excellent runner, leaper, boxer, and a strong swimmer.

At Fourteen he swam six miles across the James River in the heat of June and up stream, against the strong current. Edgar became a lieutenant in the Junior Morgan Riflemen Club when he was fifteen, impressing many. Edgar enrolled in February 1826 at age seventeen to University of Virginia. Edgar was much enthused about his classes in ancient and modern language. He excelled in his language classes, along with Latin, French, and Spanish. He joined the debate team and grew noted as a great debater. Although, it would seem that Edgar should be happy with his success, he described his years at the university as moody and gloomy.

Many say that his sadness was caused by his first romantic interest Elmira Royster, who he met back in Richmond before he left to attend the university. He wrote her many love letters, showing his adoration for her, but he father apposed the match because of the age difference which was a little over one year. Her father took the letter she would write him, therefore Edgar never received any letters from Elmira. Due to Edgar’s moods and gloominess, which John Allan took as unappreciativeness for everything he had done for Edgar, started more quarrels with John Allan.

A huge fight broke out between the two when Edgar acquired a dept due to gambling which Edgar claimed he had to do because John had not provided well enough. When Edgar returned to Richmond over break, he had debts up to $2,500, in which John Allan refused to pay off. Edgar could not return to the university and was forced to work at the Allan’s firm. Another disappointment came to Edgar upon his return to Richmond. His first night back, he attended a party at Elmira’s house only to find that the party was for her engagement. The strain between Edgar and John grew during 1827.

Edgar could not stand it any longer and moved out of the Allan’s home. Where he went was uncertain. However, Edgar did continue to write to John Allan. In many of his letters Edgar claimed that Allan had misled him, restricted him, and rejected him. Edgar also wrote telling Allan he had over heard him talking when he was younger and heard Allan say that he had no affection for the boy, and that he (Edgar) had never felt part of the family. He continued to write more hostile letters, but he when he began the need of money, his attitude in his letters changed. His letter now were friendly.

John Allan returned his letter and wrote on the back side “pretty letter. ” Edgar was distraught and led a reckless life. He roamed the streets and began drinking a lot. Edgar had decided to return to his birthplace, Boston, and he managed to begin making a living of his own. He wrote for small newspapers and published a forty page booklet entitled “Tamerlane and other Poems”, which he signed as “A Bostonian”. Most of the poem he had included in the booklet which were said to have been written while Edgar was only twelve and thirteen. In Tamerlane, there was some vague similarities of Edgar’s own life experiences.

In 1827, Edgar had decided to join the United States Army. He enlisted under then name “Edgar A. Perry” and stated his age as twenty-two (really only eighteen). Many say his reason for joining the army was strictly for the money. His company consisted of thirty privates and they were stationed at Boston Harbor at Fort Independence. Within a year, Edgar had become “Assistant to the A. C. S. ” On New Years Day 1829, Edgar was promoted to sergeant major for artillery, which was the highest possible rank for a non commissioned officer. Edgar although had been progressing in the army felt as though he needed to leave.

Edgar’s five year commission had not been fulfilled quite yet, but Lieutenant Howard, a man Edgar and become good friends with, had promised to give him an early discharge after learning of his troubled childhood. Howard would only do so though, if Edgar reconciled with John Allan, making amends. Howard had written a letter to Mr. Allan describing the situation and to which John replied saying that Edgar was to stay until termination of his enlistment. Edgar had also written to John Allan, saying that enlisting in the army had been a mistake and he wished to leave.

John did not reply and Edgar again and again wrote, explaining the exact same thing over and over. On Edgar’s twentieth birthday, Edgar write him again and asked for help to get into West Point and explaining that he wished to advance his career as a soldier. In everyone of his letters to John, he asked about Mrs. Allan and how she was doing. No improvement of her condition was seen and she died, at age forty-four, February 28th 1829. Although, she had requested to see Edgar before she died, he was unable to arrive until the night after her burial.

Edgar was very much disturbed bu for leaving Mrs. Allan in her bad condition and not being there when she died. Her death mellowed John Allan for a short while. He had boughten Edgar a suit, a knife, a hat, and a pair of gloves. He also told Edgar he had not received any letters from Edgar and did support him leaving the army and entering West Point. To Edgar’s biggest surprise and most importantly to him, John had promised to forgive Edger for everything. On April 15th 1829, Edgar had left the U. S. army and with many letter of recommendation, Edgar left for Richmond to become a cadet.

When he brought in his application to Washington, they told him that forty-seven people were ahead of him on the waiting list, but that he had a chance to make it in September, but if not, he would be the first in line the fallowing year in June. Fights between John and Edgar again sprung up do to the fact that Edgar returned to Baltimore when he found out that was possible chance of having to wait for a year. John had become impatient and thought Edgar was being lazy and accused Edgar of misleading him. The quarrels grew when Edgar began to have financial problems and he needed money again.

John sent little money which Edgar found inadequate. Edgar had decided to move to Philadelphia to publish one of his poems, “Al Aaraaf”, he requested more money from John to help him publish it, and John was actually not all opposed of the idea and asked for a manuscript to be sent to him, but in the end John refused to give Edgar any aid. John Allan, who had began to get nervous after his wife’s death, also began feeling ill. John had become involved with another woman, named Elizabeth Wills, who was to become the mother of their illegitimate twins.

John, in replying to Edgar’s letters, had stated he was not anxious to see Edgar. Edgar had continued to write to John and even tried drawing a picture of himself for John, and he like usual did not return his letters. Occasionally John sent small sums of money to Edgar and also still made sure that Edgar understood that he was not wanted at Moldavia (where John lived) . Edgar was thankful for the money, yet it was still not enough, and Edgar still requested more. While Edgar was living in Baltimore he continued to write poetry and sent some of his poems to American Monthly which published them as “sickly rhymes”.

Edgar received good reviews and was described as a promising poet, and Edgar was very pleased. He had said these to be the first words of encouragement he ever remembered to have received. He began publishing more poems in a volume, which is unknown whether was supported by John Allan or not. This was the first time in which Edgar had not published anonymously but had signed it Edgar A. Poe, showing the disownment of John Allan’s name. From then on, he would continue to sign his name this way on all of his works. His new volume was mainly about the aferlife, ideal love, and ideal beauty to passion.

It received much public attention and was noted as “highly creditable to the Country”. Edgar had finally gained admission to West Point in the Spring of 1930. By June, he had been appointed to a cadetship and signed for five years of duty to the United States. He was located about fifty miles from New York City and the cadets trained out in the fields for using big arms, and field work, during the summer. At the end of August they began their academic training. The cadets were encouraged to concentrate on a few subjects instead of braising the surface of many. Edgar decided to concentrate in only French and math.

He quickly rose to the top of his class. His classmates were also fond of Edgar. They had described him as “interesting and amusing”. When the news of John Allan’s marriage to a women twenty years younger, named Louisa Patterson, came to Edgar, he became very upset and thought he would now for sure be kept out of John’s life for good. Edgar had decided to write a friendly letter asking for some books and some money to see where they stood. Edgar had been right, at the end of the year John wrote back saying that this was to be his final letter and that he had no desire to continue any further communications with Edgar.

Edgar became very upset and decided he wanted to leave West Point, but he had to have John’s written permission to leave. John, again, refused to answer any of Edgar’s letter. Edgar threatened to ignore all of his studies until then John responded. Edgar did just that too. Soon Edgar appeared on the list of cadets who had committed the most offenses of that month. Rapidly, he dropped from the top of the class to the bottom. Edgar was then ordered a court-martial, faced with two charges. Edgar pleaded guilty to both, found guilty, and was dismissed from his service.

After leaving the academy, Edgar returned to Baltimore to live among his father’s family. Edgar had begun writing again and published new poems which showed hie performance in mixing the past and present, dream and reality, and myth and science. Much of his recent work was now described as promising but “bizarre and obscure. ” At the time, Americans were infatuated with death and many of Edgar’s poems often showed his thoughts of death and the afterlife. His work often showed a thin line between life and death.

Edgar’s inability to find a substitute for a lost loved one as a child which is how children learn to deal with death, probably resulted in his underlying denial for death which greatly influenced his poems. When Edgar moved to Baltimore he found the opportunity to spend a lot fo time with family. He also met many of his blood relatives which he did not know of, such as his first cousins, Elizabeth Herring and Virginia Clemm, along with second cousin Neilson Poe. Edgar was much enthused when he learned he could spend some more time with his brother William Henry Leonard. William, like Edgar, had been heavily affected by their mother’s death.

William as well had been associated with the government when he enlisted in the Navy. Edgar had looked to William for help, but found that William had been too drunk and that he couldn’t even help himself, let alone Edgar. Their reunion and happiness together last only six month and was ended abruptly when William died on August 1st, 1831 due to “intemperance”. Edgar now became very focused on occupied with his writing during this period in his life, however, he turned to fiction now instead of poetry, hoping to make more money. “The Dream” was his first published tale, which appeared in the Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post.

During the Spring of 1831, Edgar had entered a contest in the Saturday Courier for “The Best American Tale”, where he did not win, but the judges were so impressed by his work they published his first tale, “Metzengerstein”. , which held strong autobiographical tones. In 1833, Edgar gathered some of his work into a volume called “Eleven Tales of Arabegue” where six of the tales were actually entered into another contest which he won this time. John Pendelton Kennedy had admired Edgar’s work and decided to publish some of Edgar’s work which was Edgar’s debut in a monthly magazine with national circulation.

Back in 1831, in August, Edgar had learned of the birth of John Allan’s and his new wife’s son, named John Allan Jr. Edgar wrote John quite and unfriendly letter in which Edgar did not ask for money although mentioning that he was “wretchedly poor. ” Maria Clemm had written twice to John, asking him to help poor Edgar out, and John reluctantly sent some money to help and for the next fifteen months they had no contact. Still having financial problems, Edgar moved in with his aunt Maria and his cousin Virginia in the spring of 1833. That summer, John Allan became very ill and Edgar decided to visit.

Edgar, however, was very not welcomed. He had to push past Louisa into John’s sickroom and then John raised a cane to Edgar threatening to hit him with it and ordered him to leave. John Allan died March 27th, 1834, while sitting up in his armchair. Edgar had not even been mentioned in John Allan’s will and received nothing. At the end of the year, Thomas Willis, who had just began a new magazine in Richmond, The Southern Literary Messenger, had asked for Edger’s advice. Edgar’s advice was much welcomed. Shortly there after, Thomas offered Edger a job on his permanent staff. Edgar accepted without hesitation.

He needed this job badly. Edgar had fallen in love with his thirteen year old cousin and now he had the chance to support her and Maria. Neilson Poe had also offered to take them in, but most likely just to prevent the marriage between Virginia and Edgar. Edgar quickly wrote to Maria, expressing his deep love for Virginia and that he would be “blinded with tears” if they were to turn down his offer and stay with Neilson. Edgar was very successful with his job, but was unable to take any pleasure in his success. He often spoke of suicide during this time, and he then turned to alcohol.

Edgar then left his job. Edgar, then, returned to Baltimore and In September, he and Virginia received a marriage license and were probably married privately. Edgar wrote back to Thomas Willis asking for his old job back. Willis would love to have him back, but couldn’t risk Edgar’s drinking again. Edgar promised that he would not return to drinking and if he did then Willis could fire him immediately. Edgar returned to Richmond for his old job along with Virginia and Maria. With this job, Edgar performed all duties of an editor and was also able to work on his on writings.

He wrote pieces at this time which widened the popular tradition of gothic fiction. His writings were aimed at creating something that suspends and call into the doubt of the laws of the universe. Edgar personally liked the type of personal narration called “ tale of sensation” in which the people usually are solitary victims of a life-threatening predicament. Through the magazine Edgar was able to create a reputation as a critic of “blunt, unshakable principle, and frankness. ” He was not afraid of giving bad criticism to respected authors.

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