An Unhappy Childhood • Poe was born on January 19, 1809. • Edgar Allan Poe, was the son of actress Eliza Poe and actor David Poe Jr (being an actor/actress was not considered a desirable career at that time) • Both of his parents died at a young age. • Edgar and his brother and sister were orphaned before Edgar's third birthday and Edgar was taken in to the home of John and Fanny Allan in Richmond, VA.
A Wild Teenager • Poe registered at the University of Virginia on February 14, 1826.He excelled in his classes while accumulating considerable debt. The miserly Allan had sent Poe to college with less than a third of the money he needed, and Poe soon took up gambling to raise money to pay his expenses. By the end of his first term Poe was so desperately poor that he burned his furniture to keep warm. • Allan, Poe's foster father, refused to pay Poe's debts, and Poe was forced to withdraw from the university. • In March of 1827, Allan issued an ultimatum to Poe: live by my rules or leave. Poe left with only the clothes on his back and, as he later wrote in a letter begging for money, "not one cent in the world to provide any food." • For the rest of his life, Poe would wander from job to job and city to city, looking for financial and emotional support, but also looking for some way to exercise his intellect and his churning imagination. It would be a long and frustrating journey. • Having no means of support, he was forced to join the U.S. Army. Poe enlisted in the United States Army under the name Edgar A. Perry.
NOT an Instant Success • Francis Allan, Poe's loving foster mother, died in Richmond in 1829. Poe obtained leave from the army and arrived in Richmond on the evening of the day following her burial. • Poe is released from the Army and applies to West Point in 1829 • The life of an officer-in-training was not at all what Poe had expected. Instead of having leisure to read and write, Poe was kept busy from dawn to dusk, and he released his frustration by drinking large amounts of brandy. • Miserable and again burdened by debts, Poe wrote to Allan and threatened to get himself ejected from West Point if he did not send money. • Allan, again disgusted with Poe, sent no money and Poe made good on his word. He was court-martialed on January 28, 1831, on charges of neglect of duty and kicked out of the academy. Only 21 years old, Poe was on his own again and scrambling to make a living.
[Text: Edgar Allan Poe to John Allan - November 18, 1831.]Balt: Novr 18. 1831,My Dear Pa,I am in the greatest distress and have no other friend on earth to apply to except yourself if you refuse to help me I know not what I shall do. I was arrested eleven days ago for a debt which I never expected to have to pay, and which was incurred as much on Hy's [Henry's] account [as] on my own about two years ago.I would rather have done any thing on earth than apply to you again after your late kindness — but indeed I have no other resource, and I am in bad health, and unable to undergo as much hardships as formerly or I never would have asked you to give me another cent.If you will only send me this one time $80, by Wednesday next, I will never forget your kindness & generosity. — if you refuse God only knows what I shall do, & all my hopes & prospects are ruined forever — Yours affectionatel[y]E A PoeI have made every exertion but in vain.
Life Goes On...Strangely • In 1831 Poe moved to Baltimore to live with his aunt, Maria Clemm, and his first cousin Virginia. http://knowingpoe.thinkport.org/library/letters_foster.asp • He got a job as the editor of Southern Literary, and was respected as a critic, but not yet as an author.
A Wedding and A Funeral • John Allan, Poe's foster father, dies in Richmond, Virginia. Edgar's name is omitted from Allan's will and Poe inherits nothing from the large estate. 1834 • Edgar (aged 27) and cousin Virginia (aged 13) marry in Richmond, Virginia 1836
Moody, Drunken, PossiblyMad? • Poe suffered from random bouts of depression and madness. • Soon, his wife Virginia died of tuberculosis in 1847 http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/contagion/tuberculosis.html • He began to drink heavily. • In 1848 he attempted suicide.
A Tragic Day • Poe left a birthday party to visit his new fiancé in Richmond and disappeared for five days. • He was found in the streets of Baltimore in delirious condition and taken to a hospital. • The doctor noted that his clothes were ragged and torn, and his money was gone. • He died on October 7, 1849 at the age of 40. • His last words were: "Lord help my poor soul."
Death Theories • Beating • Epilepsy • Toxic Disorder Diabetes • Alcohol Dehydrogenase • Delerium • Rabies • Heart disease • Murder • Epilepsy • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning • http://www.poemuseum.org/life-death.php
Poe's Life:Weeks Old: Father deserts family2 years old: Mother dies of tuberculosis16 years old: Begins drinking at University20 years old: Foster mother dies 21 years old: Court martial from West Point22 years old: Foster father remarries22 years old: Moves to Baltimore24 years old: Foster father dies and Poe is disinherited.28 years old: Marries his 13 year old cousin, Virginia.38 years old: Virginia dies of tuberculosis40 years old: Poe dies under mysterious circumstances
Poe's Grave • The cause of Poe’s death remains a mystery. Despite many theories surrounding his death, no exact cause has ever been proven. • He rests with his wife and aunt under the monument erected to him in Westminster Graveyard in downtown Baltimore.
The Poe Toaster • Starting in 1949, every January the 19th, an anonymous man dressed in a black coat and hat with a scarf covering his face would visit Poe’s grave. • He toasts Poe with cognac and leaves three long stem roses at the grave. • The Poe Toaster's last appearance was on January 19th, 2009 (marking the 200th anniversary of Poe’s birth)
The Legacy of Poe • Though Poe had no children, his legacy lives on in his writing. • Some of his most famous works were The Raven and The Tell Tale Heart. • Edgar Allan Poe will always be remembered as the master of horror. He opened the doors for horror writers worldwide.
Did you know... • The National Football League 2000 Super Bowl champions are named the Baltimore Ravens, after Edgar Allan Poe's famous poem "The Raven." After all, the poem is about the torment and anguish of fierce longing, something Baltimore football fans know all too well. • If you've heard Blues Traveler's song "Run-Around" (released in 1994), you've heard Poe alive and well in modern pop music. The song begins with the line "Once upon a midnight, drearie,"- which is very similar to the first line of Poe's "The Raven:" "Once upon a midnight dreary . . ." The tune proceeds to describe the singer's longing for a woman who has left him, just as Poe pined for his lost Lenore. • Heavy metal band Iron Maiden included the song "Murders in the Rue Morgue" — the title of one of Poe's best-known stories — on their 1981 album "Killers." • At least 81 films have been based on works by Edgar Allen Poe — and many of them are about the same stories. There have been ten versions of "The Tell-Tale Heart", and nine of "The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," and "The Black Cat." • In December, 1999, the web search engine Lycos announced the "Millennium's Most Wanted." It was a list of the most popular searches for historical figures that people completed on Lycos that year. Edgar Allan Poe was #4 on the list, immediately following Adolph Hitler and just before Joan of Arc. (Shakespeare was #1 on the list).