# Poe's Short Stories Edgar Allan Poe

## Life and career

### Early life

He was born Edgar Poe in Boston, on January 19, 1809, the second child of English-born actress Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe and actor David Poe, Jr. He had an elder brother, William Henry Leonard Poe, and a younger sister, Rosalie Poe.[5] Their grandfather, David Poe, Sr., had emigrated from Cavan, Ireland, to America around the year 1750.[6] Edgar may have been named after a character in William Shakespeare's King Lear, a play the couple was performing in 1809.[7] His father abandoned their family in 1810,[8] and his mother died a year later from consumption (pulmonary tuberculosis). Poe was then taken into the home of John Allan, a successful Scottish merchant in Richmond, Virginia, who dealt in a variety of goods including tobacco, cloth, wheat, tombstones, and slaves.[9] The Allans served as a foster family and gave him the name "Edgar Allan Poe",[10] though they never formally adopted him.[11]

The Allan family had Poe baptized in the Episcopal Church in 1812. John Allan alternately spoiled and aggressively disciplined his foster son.[10] The family, including Poe and Allan's wife, Frances Valentine Allan, sailed to Britain in 1815. Poe attended the grammar school in Irvine, Scotland (where John Allan was born) for a short period in 1815, before rejoining the family in London in 1816. There he studied at a boarding school in Chelsea until summer 1817. He was subsequently entered at the Reverend John Bransby's Manor House School at Stoke Newington, then a suburb 4 miles (6.4 km) north of London.[12]

### Publishing career

After his brother's death, Poe began more earnest attempts to start his career as a writer. He chose a difficult time in American publishing to do so.[36] He was the first well-known American to try to live by writing alone[2][37] and was hampered by the lack of an international copyright law.[38] Publishers often pirated copies of British works rather than paying for new work by Americans.[37] The industry was also particularly hurt by the Panic of 1837.[39] Despite a booming growth in American periodicals around this time period, fueled in part by new technology, many did not last beyond a few issues[40] and publishers often refused to pay their writers or paid them much later than they promised.[41] Poe, throughout his attempts to live as a writer, repeatedly had to resort to humiliating pleas for money and other assistance.[42]

After his early attempts at poetry, Poe had turned his attention to prose. He placed a few stories with a Philadelphia publication and began work on his only drama, Politian. The Baltimore Saturday Visiter awarded Poe a prize in October 1833 for his short story "MS. Found in a Bottle".[43] The story brought him to the attention of John P. Kennedy, a Baltimorean of considerable means. He helped Poe place some of his stories, and introduced him to Thomas W. White, editor of the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond. Poe became assistant editor of the periodical in August 1835,[44] but was discharged within a few weeks for having been caught drunk by his boss.[45] Returning to Baltimore, Poe secretly married Virginia, his cousin, on September 22, 1835. He was 26 and she was 13, though she is listed on the marriage certificate as being 21.[46] Reinstated by White after promising good behavior, Poe went back to Richmond with Virginia and her mother. He remained at the Messenger until January 1837. During this period, Poe claimed that its circulation increased from 700 to 3,500.[5] He published several poems, book reviews, critiques, and stories in the paper. On May 16, 1836, he had a second wedding ceremony in Richmond with Virginia Clemm, this time in public.[47]

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket was published and widely reviewed in 1838.[48] In the summer of 1839, Poe became assistant editor of Burton's Gentleman's Magazine. He published numerous articles, stories, and reviews, enhancing his reputation as a trenchant critic that he had established at the Southern Literary Messenger. Also in 1839, the collection Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque was published in two volumes, though he made little money off of it and it received mixed reviews.[49] Poe left Burton's after about a year and found a position as assistant at Graham's Magazine.[50]

In June 1840, Poe published a prospectus announcing his intentions to start his own journal, The Stylus.[51] Originally, Poe intended to call the journal The Penn, as it would have been based in Philadelphia. In the June 6, 1840 issue of Philadelphia's Saturday Evening Post, Poe bought advertising space for his prospectus: "Prospectus of the Penn Magazine, a Monthly Literary journal to be edited and published in the city of Philadelphia by Edgar A. Poe."[52] The journal was never produced before Poe's death. Around this time, he attempted to secure a position with the Tyler administration, claiming he was a member of the Whig Party.[53] He hoped to be appointed to the Custom House in Philadelphia with help from president Tyler's son Robert,[54] an acquaintance of Poe's friend Frederick Thomas.[55] Poe failed to show up for a meeting with Thomas to discuss the appointment in mid-September 1842, claiming to have been sick, though Thomas believed he had been drunk.[56] Though he was promised an appointment, all positions were filled by others.[57]

One evening in January 1842, Virginia showed the first signs of consumption, now known as tuberculosis, while singing and playing the piano. Poe described it as breaking a blood vessel in her throat.[58] She only partially recovered. Poe began to drink more heavily under the stress of Virginia's illness. He left Graham's and attempted to find a new position, for a time angling for a government post. He returned to New York, where he worked briefly at the Evening Mirror before becoming editor of the Broadway Journal and, later, sole owner.[59] There he alienated himself from other writers by publicly accusing Henry Wadsworth Longfellow of plagiarism, though Longfellow never responded.[60] On January 29, 1845, his poem "The Raven" appeared in the Evening Mirror and became a popular sensation. Though it made Poe a household name almost instantly,[61] he was paid only \$9 for its publication.[62] It was concurrently published in The American Review: A Whig Journal under the pseudonym "Quarles".[63]

The Broadway Journal failed in 1846.[59] Poe moved to a cottage in the Fordham section of the Bronx. That home, known today as the "Poe Cottage", is on the southeast corner of the Grand Concourse and Kingsbridge Road, where he befriended the Jesuits at St. John's College nearby (now Fordham University).[64] Virginia died there on January 30, 1847.[65] Biographers and critics often suggest that Poe's frequent theme of the "death of a beautiful woman" stems from the repeated loss of women throughout his life, including his wife.[66]

Increasingly unstable after his wife's death, Poe attempted to court the poet Sarah Helen Whitman, who lived in Providence, Rhode Island. Their engagement failed, purportedly because of Poe's drinking and erratic behavior. There is also strong evidence that Whitman's mother intervened and did much to derail their relationship.[67] Poe then returned to Richmond and resumed a relationship with his childhood sweetheart, Sarah Elmira Royster.[68]

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