Edgar Allan Poe is one of the major contributors of the American Romantic Movement and was considered an author, poet, literary critic, and editor. Dubbed “The Master of Horror,” Poe became famous for his macabre short stories and poems that will still give anyone the chills.
Born today, January 19, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts, Poe’s storied life can be compared to a page from a book. Check out these intriguing facts about him:
1. He was an orphan
Poe’s father, David, was an alcoholic and abandoned him and his siblings while they were young. His mother, Elizabeth, died soon after, leaving Poe and his two siblings orphaned. Poe was then taken in by John and Frances Allan, a wealthy family from Virginia. Though they did not legally adopt him, the Allans became his foster family and gave him the name “Edgar Allan Poe.”
2. His inclination towards the arts runs in the family
Poe’s parents were both actors and it was believed that he was named after Edgar, a character in Shakespeare’s King Lear that his parents performed in. His brother, William, was also a poet like him. And his sister, Rosalie, was a teacher of penmanship.
3. His first book was published at the age of 18
Tamerlane and Other Poems was Poe’s first published book. He has been writing poetry since he was young, just like his boyhood hero Lord Byron, a British poet.
4. He enlisted in the Army under a false name
In 1827, Poe falsified his enlistment in the United States Army by stating that he is Edgar A. Perry and claimed that he is already 22 years old, when in truth he was only 18. He was later expelled from the Army.
5. He married his teenage cousin
Poe married his 13-year-old cousin, Virginia Clemm, in 1836. Clemm died of tuberculosis when she was 24. It was believed that she was the inspiration behind Poe’s poem, Annabel Lee.
6. He was a cat lover
The gothic author was a lover of cats, and it was assumed that he often writes with a cat on his shoulder. Cats were also featured in some of his stories.
7. “The Raven” gave him his break as an author
His poem, The Raven, was originally sold to The American Review in 1845 for $9. This poem made Poe a household name.
8. He pioneered the modern detective story
Yes, you read that right! Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue has been considered as the first modern detective short story. His character, Mr. Dupin, has served as a model to other detective characters such as Sherlock Holmes.
9. Dickens and Poe were pen pals
Edgar Allan Poe wrote a review on the first four chapters of Charles Dickens’s Barnaby Rudge for Graham Magazine where he predicted the ending of the said novel. Poe’s predictions turned out to be correct. The review sprung from his fascination with one character, Grip, a raven. When he learned that Charles Dickens will be coming over to the US a year later, Poe wrote to the novelist and has since exchanged letters with each other. Eventually, they met up once in Philadelphia.
10. Poe’s death was as mysterious as his stories
Poe died on October 7, 1849. He was only 40 years old and the cause of his death is unknown. Speculations about his passing ranged from alcohol, drugs, cholera, and suicide.