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One the greatest and unhappiest of American poets, a master of the horror tale, and the patron saint of the detective story. Edgar Allan Poe first gained critical acclaim in France and England. His reputation in America was relatively slight until the French-influenced writers like Ambroce Bierce, Robert W. Chambers, and representatives of the Lovecraft school created interest in his work.
"The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends and where the other begins?" (from The Premature Burial, 1844)
Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to parents who were itinerant actors. His father David Poe Jr. died probably in 1810. Elizabeth Hopkins Poe died in 1811, leaving three children. Edgar was taken into the home of a Richmond merchant John Allan. The remaining children were cared for by others. Poe's brother William died young and sister Rosalie become later insane. At the age of five Poe could recite passages of English poetry. Later one of his teachers in Richmond said: "While the other boys wrote mere mechanical verses, Poe wrote genuine poetry; the boy was a born poet."
Poe was brought up partly in England (1815-20), where he attended Manor School at Stoke Newington. Later it become the setting for his story 'William Wilson'. Never legally adopted, Poe took Allan's name for his middle name. Poe attended the University of Virginia (1826-27), but was expelled for not paying his gambling debts. This led to quarrel with Allan, who refused to pay the debts. Allan later disowned him. In 1826 Poe became engaged to Elmira Royster, but her parents broke off the engagement. During his stay at the university, Poe composed some tales, but little is known of his apprentice works. In 1827 Poe joined the U.S. Army as a common soldier under assumed name, Edgar A. Perry. He was sent to Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, which provided settings for 'The Gold Bug' (1843) and 'The Balloon Hoax' (1844). Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827), which Poe published at his own expense, sold poorly. It has become one of the rarest volumes in American literary history. In 1830 Poe entered West Point. He was dishonorably discharged next year, for intentional neglect of his duties - apparently as a result of his own determination to be released.
In 1833 Poe lived in Baltimore with his father's sister Mrs. Maria Clemm. After winning a prize of $50 for the short story 'MS Found in a Bottle,' he started career as a staff member of various magazines, among others the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond (1835-37), Burton's Gentleman's Magazine in Philadelphia (1839-40), and Graham's Magazine (1842-43). During these years he wrote some of his best-known stories. Southern Literary Messenger he had to leave partly due to his alcoholism.
In 1836 Poe married his 13-year-old cousin Virginia Clemm. She bust a blood vessel in 1842, and remained a virtual invalid until her death from tuberculosis five years later. After the death of his wife, Poe began to lose his struggle with drinking and drugs. He had several romances, including an affair with the poet Sarah Helen Whitman, who said: "His proud reserve, his profound melancholy, his unworldliness - may we not say his unearthliness of nature - made his character one very difficult of comprehension to the casual observer." In 1849 Poe become again engaged to Elmira Royster, who was at that time Mrs. Shelton. To Virginia he addressed the famous poem 'Annabel Lee' (1849) - its subject, Poe's favorite, is the death of a beautiful woman.
Information source: wikipedia