Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) was a short-story writer, poet, and critic. The son of itinerant actors, Poe was orphaned at two and was adopted by John Allan, a Richmond, Virginia, merchant and his wife. They gave Poe his middle name and a genteel childhood but eventually became the source of profound unhappiness. Allan was unfaithful to his wife, and when Poe took her part, Allan turned on him savagely. Although Allan violently opposed Poe’s literary career, he unwittingly encouraged it. His firm imported many foreign books and magazines, which Poe read assiduously, giving him a literary sophistication far beyond his Richmond peers. Allan sent Poe to the University of Virginia with no spending money; when the boy ran up heavy gambling debts, his foster father refused to pay. After a bitter quarrel, Poe left home to seek literary fame.
Poe moved to Boston in 1827 where he published a book of poems but almost starved. He enlisted in the army and soon became sergeant major of his… read more