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The Life And Work Of Edgar Allan Poe

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Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to parents who were traveling 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 merchant from Richmond named John Allan. The remaining children were cared for by others. Poe's brother William died young and sister Rosalie later became 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 became the setting for his story 'William Wilson'. Since Poe was never legally adopted, he 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. His expulsion led to a 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 wrote some stories, but not much is known of his beginning works.

In 1827 Poe joined the U.S. Army as a common soldier under an assumed name, Edgar A. Perry. He was sent to Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, which provided settings for his tales 'The Gold Bug' (1843) and 'The Balloon Hoax' (1844). Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827), which Poe published at his own cost, did not do well. It has now become one of the rarest volumes in American literary history. In 1830 Poe entered West Point. He was dishonorably discharged the next year, for intentional neglect of his duties. Apparently he did this out of his own strong desire 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 a career as a staff member of various magazines, some of which were; 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 partially due to his alcohol addiction. In 1836 Poe married his 13-year-old cousin Virginia Clemm. She bust a blood vessel in 1842, and remained virtually invalid until she died from tuberculosis five years later. After Virginia's death, 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 became 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.

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