“Poe had a pretty bitter doom. Doomed to seethe down his soul in a great continuous convulsion of disintegration…” – D.H. Lawrence in Studies in American Literature
Edgar Allen Poe was born on January 19th, 1809. He was the second of three children of Elizabeth Arnold and David Poe, both actors. His father abandoned the family shortly after. In 1811, his mother died leaving Poe an orphan. He was fostered out to, and later adopted by, John and Frances Allen.
From 1815 to 1820, the Allens lived in England. Poe attended the Manor House School run by Reverend John Bransly. In 1825, he fell in love with Sarah Elmira Royster. However, this relationship ended when she was forced to marry another man. In 1826 he enrolled in the University of Virginia where he excelled in French and Latin.
Poe enlisted in the army in 1827. By the time he was discharged, later that year, he was a Regimental Sargeant Major. That year also saw the publication of his first book of poems. “Tamerlane and Other Poems” contained such poems as “The Lake” and “Dreams”. His second book of poems, “Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems” was published in 1829. It contained the poems “The Silence” and ” “Fairy-land.”
Between the years of 1830 and 1831, Poe attended West Point as a cadet. Money shortages forced him to drop out. During this time, Poe was prone to heavy drinking and depression which was to continue throughout his life. Later in 1831, “Poems: Second Edition” was published, it was dedicated to the US Corps of Cadets. It contained such poems as “To Helen” and “Lenore.” His first short story, “Metzingerstein”, was published in 1832; he also won an award that year for another short story, “MS Found in a Bottle.”
In 1835, Poe became the editor of “The Southern Literary Messenger”; several of his stories, including “Berenice” were published in this journal.
In 1836, Poe married his 13-year-old cousin, Virginia Clemm. Her mother was his housekeeper. From all accounts, the two were very much in love.
In 1837, Poe resigned from “The Southern Literary Messenger” after a disagreement with the owner, T.W. White. The next three years saw the publication of many more short stories, In 1838, he published the story “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym”. 1839 saw the publication of “The Fall of the House of Usher.” “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” was published in 1841 and Poe became the editor of “Graham’s Magazine.” In 1845, he became the owner-editor of the short-lived “The Broadway Journal”. “The Raven” was also published in that year.
In 1847, Poe published the poem “Ulalume” anonymously. Poe suffered a great heartbreak that year. His beloved wife, Virginia, died of a burst blood vessel after a long bout with tuberculosis. In 1848, he renewed his love affair with Sarah Elmira Royster.
Poe’s last published poem was “Annabel Lee” in 1849. Edgar Allen Poe died on October 7, 1849. He was 40 years old.