Edgar Allan Poe's Legacy

What influenced Edgar to write in the style he did?

The Birth of a Literary Genius

On a cold, dreary night, Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 19, 1809 to Eliza Poe and David Poe Jr.

Edgar's Childhood and Family

The childhood of Edgar Allan Poe brought tragedy, sorrow, and inspiration for his new-found genre of literature. His father abandoned him, his mother, his brother, and his sister leaving them to fend for themselves when Edgar was very young. Edgar's mother, Eliza, was a locally known actress and loved by her audience. But alas, her profession brought little to no income to support herself and her family, so she was forced to send her daughter Rosalie and son Henry to live with friends/ foster families. When Edgar was 3, Eliza was ill stricken by tuberculosis, a fatal and gruesome ailment. She died only months after her diagnosis. Her death deeply affected Edgar due to the fact that he and his mother had a bond like no other. Edgar was sent to live with his mother's good friends Frances and John Allan in Richmond, Virginia who were wealthy and in the tobacco industry. He developed a very loving relationship with Frances but was never close with John. Edgar attended very prestigious grade schools and received a superb education. He was respected among his peers, but he never really interacted with them. Edgar started writing poetry at an early age and would even write love poems to his childhood sweethearts. He had a profound respect for women and thought that they should be treated with love and appreciation, unlike other men of his time. Edgar was a hopeless romantic even at a young age. He was constantly leaving little letters and poems to his latest love interest.


Edgar received a superb education and attended some of the best schools of that time. He went to miscellaneous private grade schools and attended college at the University of Virginia. At that time, the University or Virginia was kind of rough school. Edgar wasn't the type of kid who went there to say the least. Despite the fact, he made mutual acquaintances and was liked because of his poetry and stories. In a way, he left his mark there and shaped the school for the better. The teachers at the University of Virginia thought he was brilliant and saw a good amount of potential in him. Here comes an interesting part of the story of Edgar Allan Poe; His basically adopted father John Allan barely gave Edgar any money at all. Edgar was not able to get anything he needed. He was so desperate that one night he had to burn the furniture in his room in order to keep warm due to his lack of clothes and other necessities.

After Edgar managed to get kicked out of the University of Virginia, he attended West-point. Really? One of the world's most acclaimed writers of all time was in the military? Yes, yes he was. In fact, he was even a very respected and well thought of soldier. Something about the military intrigued Edgar. That, and the fact that West-point was basically his last resort. I mean, how poetic is it to be a soldier AND a writer? Love and war y'all, love and war. Edgar actually dropped out of West-point to pursue his writing career and make it his primary focus.

“The death of a beautiful woman is unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world.”- Edgar Allan Poe

Important Life Events

Edgar's life is by far a story. Some might say it's somewhat of a piece of literature itself. So many things happened to shape his style of writing and personality. This tragic story starts off with the death of his mother, someone he absolutely cherished but never really got to know. It's noted in history that Edgar always carried around a little picture of his mother in his pocket. To add to the sudden death of his mother, Edgar's father also abandoned him and his family when he was very young. That event really shaped Edgar in the way that he didn't really have a good father figure growing up, or at least one that he could confide in. Like I've said before, Edgar wasn't like the men of his time at at all in the sense that he respected women and never look down at them or saw them as something less than a person. Women weren't just nice things to have around to him. Back in the time period in which Edgar lived, it was very common to marry a relative of some sort. So, he married his 13 year old cousin Virginia Clemm in 1835. He was 26 at the time. Now, that's totally weird and illegal in the modern age, but we have to remember that the times have changed a lot. Historians even say that Edgar and Virginia's relationship was more like a sibling love than an actual marriage. Here's where tragedy strikes again for Edgar; One day in January 1842, Edgar was listening to Virginia play piano when all of the sudden, her nose started dripping blood, a tell tale sign of tuberculosis. Virginia struggled and fought the disease for 5 years, dying at the age of 24. Edgar was absolutely distraught. One of his most famous poems titled "Annabel Lee" is about Virginia. After the death of Edgar's Annabel Lee, he was in various other relationships with women who were poets or notable people in society. He got engaged to a poet named Sarah Helen Whitman but never wed because Edgar couldn't get sober upon Helen's request. After some bridges were burned with Sarah, Edgar got engaged to his childhood sweetheart Sarah Elmira Royster Shelton. He even joined The Sons of Temperance, a present day Alcoholics Anonymous, but was found dead before they could get married.
Edgar Allan Poe's THE RAVEN


Edgar achieve many literary accomplishments in his life, though he was never truly recognized until after his death. He made not one but TWO

major advances in literature. Edgar was the 1st author to introduce detective fiction with his novel "The Murders in Rue Morgue". He also published "The Philosophy of Composition" a work that explains not only his own method of writing but several techniques and styles. Edgar's "The Raven'',published in 1845, made him the famous author he is today.

“Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears.” - Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar's Mysterious Death

After the death of Virginia Clemm, Edgar was a wreck. Some say he never really found peace with her passing, which I believe to be true. He was full of pure grief and suffered from poor health due to his lack of care for living and just life in general. The great writer of the mid 1800's death all started with his journey from Richmond, Virginia to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During his trip, Edgar had stopped in Baltimore, Maryland only to be found barely gripping onto life. He was immediately taken to Washington College Hospital and was pronounced dead on October 7, 1849. Edgar died at the age of 40. Here's where the craziest part of the story comes in; Edgar definitely had some "beef" with other writers of his time. His most notorious nemesis being a man named Rufus Griswold. Rufus was put in charge of writing Edgar's biography and obituary. Rufus took it upon himself to portray Edgar as a manic alcoholic and womanizer who was as incompetent as a field mouse. So, the public never really was made aware of the true genius Edgar was. Unfortunately, Edgar was unable to clear up his name due to his certain circumstances.

Annabel Lee

Annabel Lee


It was many and many a year ago,

In a kingdom by the sea,

That a maiden there lived whom you may know

By the name of Annabel Lee;

And this maiden she lived with no other thought

Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,

In this kingdom by the sea,

But we loved with a love that was more than love—

I and my Annabel Lee—

With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven

Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,

In this kingdom by the sea,

A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling

My beautiful Annabel Lee;

So that her highborn kinsmen came

And bore her away from me,

To shut her up in a sepulchre

In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,

Went envying her and me—

Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,

In this kingdom by the sea)

That the wind came out of the cloud by night,

Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love

Of those who were older than we—

Of many far wiser than we—

And neither the angels in Heaven above

Nor the demons down under the sea

Can ever dissever my soul from the soul

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side

Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,

In her sepulchre there by the sea—

In her tomb by the sounding sea.