Edgar Allen Poe

Edgar Allen Poe was a brilliant novelist, poet and editor. His writings (particularly his most famous poem, 1845’s The Raven) have become such an integral part of our cultural identity that you can even buy a haggard little Poe doll, complete with detachable raven. Unfortunately, Poe’s genius is slightly overshadowed by the fact that he was also a child-bride-marrying alcoholic with the personal skills of a rhinoceros.

Poe was born in 1809. His parents, both traveling actors, died before his third birthday, and young Edgar was raised by a merchant named John Allan. As a university student Poe incurred enormous gambling debts, and his relationship with Allan soured. Poe moved in with a widowed aunt, and shortly thereafter married his thirteen-year-old cousin Virginia. (EWWWW!!!!!) Poe’s writing, both creative and critical, was well-received, but his inability to play nicely with his editors—who weren’t happy about his drinking and alleged drug abuse—limited his success. Virginia died of consumption in 1847 at the ripe old age of 25, and Poe rekindled his romance with his childhood sweetheart Sarah Royster in the summer of 1849. Their relationship was short-lived, however, as Poe’s health was failing fast. He was discovered in a delirious heap on a Baltimore street on October 7, 1849, and died almost immediately. The official cause of death was “congestion of the brain”, but theories range from the boring-but-highly-plausible alcoholism to more exotic diagnoses like syphilis, rabies, and (my favorite) being dragged all over town as an drunken pawn in a ballot-stuffing scheme.

Well... too bad about all the crazy.


Other Recommendations:
Frankenstein, by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James

Anything by Emily or Charlotte Bronte

Anything by Christina Rossetti
Posted by: Julia


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