Josh Lapp Edgar Allan Poe 1809-1849 Born to David and Elizabeth Arnold Poe Mother was a very good actress of the time; father, mediocre Acting was a profession that many people thought little of or looked down upon, made little money Mrs. Poe had been previously married at the age of 15 to a man named Hopkins ? no children, de died Three children born to the Poes William Henry Leonard ? born 1807 ? lived with paternal grandparents Edgar in 1809 Rosalie in 1810 ? some question as to her paternity David Poe deserted the family sometime between Poe?s birth and Rosalie?s birth Some say he was drinking heavily, jealous of wife?s better career and relationships with other leading actors, angry over pregnancy that he suspected was not his child Elizabeth Poe became ill with TB and died in 1811 in poverty shortly before Poe?s 3rd birthday ? supposedly Poe was at her bedside when she succumbed Edgar was taken in by a wealthy couple from Richmond, VA Mr. and Mrs. John Allan (Allan was a successful merchant who dealt in tobacco, cloth, wheat, tombstones, and slaves). His worth at the time was estimated to be $750,000.00 Rosalie was taken by another Richmond family, the MacKenzies who knew the Allans Allans had been married for 7 years but were childless. An unmarried sister of Mrs. Allan lived with them as well The two women with untapped maternal affection doted on Poe which caused Mr. Allan to be jealous of the child from questionable who had usurped his role as the center of these women?s lives This caused constant friction and animosity between Allan and Poe throughout their lives However, because the Allans were wealthy, Poe benefitted from an excellent education In addition, the family lived for five years from 1815-1820 in Europe ? many people believe Poe?s story have a European flair because of the time he spent there At age 16, Poe met the love of his life, Sarah Elmira Royster. They were so deeply in love that they planned to marry At the same time Poe and Allan were arguing about his future, Allan wanted Poe to go into the family business; Poe had not interest (he thought it would be an opportunity for Allan to dominate and control him) They both compromised (probably at the bidding of Mrs. Allan) and Poe was sent to the University of VA The University of VA was a rich boys school and Allan sent Poe there on a ?shoestring budget? it was said that he needed $150 to cover expenses and he only got $110 Poe continued to correspond with Sarah, but Allan interfered with this as well Allan shared with Sarah?s father Poe?s origin and the fact that Allan never intended to allow Poe to inherit the Allan fortune Sarah?s father intercepted letters from Sarah to Poe and Poe to Sarah. He forbade her to marry another young man, Mr. A. Barrett Shelton. Each one thought the other was not responding to the sent letters and assumed the other no longer cared Poe became involved in gambling to provide for his needs at school and incurred substantial debt ? some say as much as $2,500.00 Angered by his debts, John Allan removed Poe from school with the idea that Poe would now have no choice but to work in the family business Poe still refused which only further exacerbated the acrimonious relationship between them In anger, Poe left the Allan household and joined the army under the name, Edgar A. Perry During Poe?s time in the military, Mrs. Allan fell gravely ill; Poe returned to her bedside and there was a brief reconciliation between Poe and John Allan After Mrs. Allan?s death, John Allan secured an appointment for Poe at West Point Poe soon grew tired of the regimentation and purposely got himself thrown out of the Academy. (He refused to attend formations, classes, church) This was the ?final straw? between Poe and Allan. They rarely spoke and Allan disinherited him in his will Poe supported himself throughout his life by working for various magazines and newspapers primarily as an editorial critic. (James Russell Lowell said of Poe, ?the most discriminating philosophical and fearless critic upon imaginative works who has written in America.? He also stated he used prussic acid instead of ink) He did publish books of poetry, but never for much money or acclaim (There were no copyright laws at the time; it was very difficult to make a living as a writer) He moved in with an aunt (sister of his mother) Maria Clemm ? called Muddy There he fell in love and married her daughter, his cousin, Virginia Clemm She was 13, he was 26 They (Poe, Virginia, and his Aunt Muddy) struggled financially; Poe was given to alcoholism and erratic behavior. He was not a particularly genial man and people disliked him Virginia was a sickly young woman ? TB; she would die 12 years later in 1847 at age 25. She was singing to him and burst a blood vessel in her throat and hemorrhaged to death In 1849, he re-met Sarah Royster Shelton, now a widow; they rekindled their romance and planned to marry En route to picking up his Aunt Muddy in Baltimore, he got off the train, disappeared, was later found outside a tavern gravely ill and drunk Taken to the hospital in a delirium, he died 4 days later at the age of 40 There are various speculations about his death ? alcohol and drugs, rabies, brain seizure, etc. Poe wrote 70 plus short stories, numerous poems, and extensive literary criticism He defined the limits of the short story ? Usually an American genre Short ? able to read in one sitting One or few main characters Single plot line Every aspect of story should build to ?single effect? He invented the detective story where it is brains not brawn that solves the crime ? ?The Purloined Letter? Famous poems ? ?To Helen,? ?Annabel Lee,? ?The Raven? (paid $5 - $10) in 1929, manuscript of ?The Raven? sold for $100,000 Poe utilized the grotesque amd arabesque in his work Grotesque ? physical suffering Arabesque ? mental suffering He is associated with the Gothic Tale Focus on the ghastly and horrible ? instill terror Takes place in old, decaying castles Eerie noises like rattling chains, creaking doors, moans, screams, panting Mutilations Premature entombment Ghosts and zombies Dark stormy nights
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