The history of Gothic literature would never be well written without proper acknowledgment of Edgar Allan Poe for his immeasurable contribution. For him, “words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality”.
An Overview of Edgar Allan Poe’s Life
Nicknamed “The Master of Horror”, Edgar was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1809. He led a tragedy filled life that undoubtedly affected his works. Poe was orphaned at an incredibly young age after his father deserted the family and his mother died.
Young Poe was taken in by John and Francis Richmond. He attended the University of Virginia but dropped out due to financial struggles.
Poe was one of the most relevant and prominent writers of the 19th century and also the first author who earned a living solely from writing. Although he became an accomplished poet, short story writer, editor, literary critic, and even went ahead to achieve international acclaim for his dark, macabre tales of horror, he was beset with depression and alcoholism.
Poe’s life experiences formed the framework of his horror fiction. He utterly reformed the genre of Gothic fiction with his brilliant narratives of intellectual magnitude which was unprecedented in the genre and remains unmatched after it.
Despite being an intellectual powerhouse, Edgar Allan Poe was an alcoholic and constantly ran into trouble because of his drunken state. This vice was the ruin of his life.
15 Sad and Inspiring Facts About His Life and Death
1. Edgar Allan Poe grew accustomed to suffering very early in his life. After the death of his mother and the departure of his father, his life became a struggle.
2. The revered writer was a jack of many trades. He created a variety of work across several disciplines from short stories to novels, poetry, essays, textbooks, and reviews. He even authored a book on scientific theory.
3. Edgar Allan Poe was a literary powerhouse. He is widely celebrated for his stories of terror and his hauntingly beautiful poems. He’s also considered an innovator of the sci-fi genre, one of the most foremost writers of short stories, as well as the creator of modern detective stories.
4. Financial hardship was a great source of motivation for the author. With the little financial support he was able to squeeze out his stingy stepfather, Poe pursued a college education, but he soon became riddled with debt. His poor financial situation made him determined to become an accomplished writer.
5. At the age of 26, Edgar Allan Poe married Virginia Clemm, his 13-year-old cousin. On their marriage certificate, the couple claimed that she was 21 years old. Although this was shameful, the actual calamity came 13 years later when tuberculosis took her life. Virginia’s life, illness, and premature death impacted many of Poe’s work.
6. Poe’s Hair became a prized collector’s item after he died. Many of his admirers waited in line for mementos of the poet, with most of them desperate to have his hair. Joseph Snodgrass, one of Poe’s beloved friends saved some strands of Poe’s hair, which now belongs to the Poe Museum.
7. A week before his mysterious death, Poe’s doctor advised him not to travel. His fiancee, Elmira Shelton observed that Poe looked unwell the evening before he departed for his trip to Philadelphia. Her concern prompted Poe to pay a visit to a doctor acquaintance named John Carter, who suggested that Poe should put off his journey for a few more days.
8. Edgar Allan Poe’s friend was one of the people who spread rumors that the acclaimed writer had drunk himself to death.
9. Edgar’s physician refuted the claims that he had been drinking at the time of his death, stating that the author had been staying sober for a while.
10. Rufus Wilmot Grimsworld, Poe’s professional and personal enemy, wrote the obituary for the dead author. In his article, he portrayed Edgar Allan Poe as a depraved, mentally deranged, womanizing alcoholic, with a heavy drug problem whose stories were inspired by his personal experiences. This biased description of Poe continues to influence the public’s opinion of the author to this day.
11. Poe’s funeral had only seven people in attendance. Following his death, his cousin was determined to bury him without any fanfare, as quickly as possible. The ceremony was described as ‘cold-hearted’ and ‘unchristianly’ by one of the attendees.
12. No one knows exactly how Edgar Allan Poe died. The cause of his sudden and unexpected death remains a mystery to this day. The writer was found in a deplorable state on Baltimore’s street, on October 3, 1849. Strangely, he was wearing someone else’s clothes. Poe died in the hospital four days later.
13. Poe’s body was later moved and buried in a more befitting grave decades after his death.
14. Forty years after her passing, Poe’s wife’s body was also moved and buried next to him.
15. Death did not put an end to Edgar Allan Poe’s career, some of his unpublished writings have been found and published over the years.