Edgar Allan Poe

By Hannah Jones

Edgar Allan Poe's twisted and horrific writing style came from a multitude of rough life experiences and overall a rough life.

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Edgar was orphaned at age 3

Poe's parents were traveling actors. When he was born his father left him and his family. Later on when he was 3, his mother became sick with tuberculosis, and then died. He was an orphan and was taken in by a wealthy tobacco merchant. His foster father wanted him to be a factory owner, but Edgar wanted to be a writer. Unfortunately, he didn't have a great relationship with his foster father. This lead to a lifetime of abandonment for Poe, and always feeling like he had no one to turn to.

When he was a late teen, he had to enlist in the army

After being in college for a while, he had to drop out due to becoming in a lot of debt, and also becoming a heavy drinker. He decided to join the army, and while at some of his army bases he gathered some ideas and inspiration for his books. He met a biologist named Dr. Edward Revenel, and their base was a set up near a beach/forest. "Just as the gloomy atmosphere and gothic architecture of London provided the mood and setting for "Wilson Wilson" and other stories, Poe's experience in South Carolina(his army base) provided the backdrop for some of Poe's later stories," says Suzanne Levert, author of the book Edgar Allan Poe. Although Edgar didn't enjoy the Army and his time there, he used many of the places he visited as settings later on in his stories.

He wasn't loved by many

When Edgar was really young, his father left him and his family. Later, when he became adopted, his foster father wanted him to become a factory owner. Edgar wanted to be a writer, so his foster father didn't support him, leaving him with a lot of financial issues and never really having anyone to turn to. Also, when Edgar went to the army, he left his first fiancé at home waiting for him. When he returned, she had become engaged to somebody else. Finally, when Edgar died, his enemy wrote his obituary and a few biographies about him, making him look like a drunk madman who had no idea what he was doing. These writings about Poe effected how people viewed him for over a century.

He married his 13 year old cousin

Shortly after his mother's death, when Edgar was 20 and his cousin was 7, he moved in with her and her family. a couple years later, when she was 13 and he was 26, they secretly got married. Virginia(his cousin), was devoted to him, while Poe saw it as more of a brother/sister relationship. Although, when she died, Poe was deeply affected. He channeled his love/loss with her into some of his writings. Virginia's death, along with all the other deaths he had experienced in his family and lifetime, caused Edgar to become more and more depressed, just making his writings more and more dark.

some of his skillful writing techniques were developed from other authors

Edgar used some forms of "physcological intensity" in his writing, which he gained from the Russian author/philosopher Fyodor Dostoyevsky. He uses intense "sounds", or onomatopoeias , in his writing. This causes the reader to feel as if they're a part of the story. He also uses the "symbolic method", which he learned from authors Nathanial Hawthorne and Herman Melville. In using the symbolic method, Poe adds hidden meanings in his work, or also uses a lot of symbolism. Even though this techniques aren't unique to Edgar, I believe that he wouldn't have been able to make them work as perfectly as they did in his writings if he didn't have any dark backgrounds to channel his work from.

although many people's view on Poe is that he was an insane, drunk writer, I belive that he actually had a strong sense of depth and intelligence to him as well


"The true genius shudders at incompleteness - and usually prefers silence to saying something which is not everything it should be."

Edgar Allan Poe

"Science has not yet taught us if madness is or is not the sublimity of the intelligence."

Edgar Allan Poe

"That pleasure which is at once the most pure, the most elevating and the most intense, is derived, I maintain, from the contemplation of the beautiful."

Edgar Allan Poe