The Biography of Edgar Allan Poe and his Contribution to the Horror Genre

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Edgar Allan poe was born January 19, 1809 in Boston Massachusetts, and died October 7, 1849 in church home & hospital in Baltimore Maryland(google) The name Edgar Allan Poe brings people flashes of killers and maniacs, premature burials, and crazy people who came back from the dead. His works has been in print since 1827 and includes such literary classics as The Tell-Tale Heart, The Raven, and The Fall of the House of Usher.( the museum of edgar allan poe). Poe is greatly known as the inventor of detective stories and the creator of science fiction genre. his reputation today is primarily held on his stories and poetry of terror. Poe is often thought of as unwholesome, hard to read figure, looking in the shadows of cemeteries or dark castles.Poe has had a really dark and lonely past which is why I believe he’s such a peculiar character.

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All that was mentioned is what people know of Edgar Allan Poe. But much of what we know about Poe is incorrect, because one of Poe’s enemies attempted to defame Poe by writing a fake biography. The real Poe was born to traveling actors in Boston on January 19, 1809, but within three years both of his parents had died. Poe was taken in by the wealthy tobacco merchant John Allan and his wife Frances Valentine Allan in Richmond, Virginia, while Poe’s siblings went to live with other families(Poe biography) John Allan guided Poe to become a business person, but Poe dreamt of becoming his own personal legend, the poet Lord Byron. Poe had many poetic verses and that showed how little inteset he had in business.

In 1826 Poe left Richmond to attend the University of Virginia, where he excelled in his classes but accumulated considerable debt( biography ) The cheap John Allan had sent Poe to school with less than a third of the money he needed, so then Poe started playing games like gambling to raise money and pay his bills. By the end of his first semester Poe became really poor. Crushed by his poverty and infuriated with Allan,Poe was forced to drop out of school and return to Richmond. However, matters continued to worsen. He visited the home of his fiancee, Elmira Royster, only to discover that she had become engaged to another man.( biography)

Poe was very heartbroken and had increasingly became hostile toward Allan until he finally left Allan’s home in a idealistic journey to become a poet and find his calling. Poe published his first poetry collection, Tamerlane, and Other Poems. The volume went unnoticed by readers and reviewers, and a second collection, Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems, received only slightly more attention when it appeared in 1829. (Edgar Allan Poe) Two years later he entered the United States Military Academy at West Point while writing and publishing poetry. But after eight months at West Point Poe was kicked out. Poor and lonely, Poe turned to his real father’s home, but his cousin robbed him so Poe’s relative, aunt Maria Clemm, welcomed him into her home.

While Poe was in Baltimore, John Allan died, leaving Poe on his own. By then Poe was living in poverty but had started publishing his short stories, one of which won a contest sponsored by the Saturday Visiter. The connections Poe established through the contest allowed him to publish more stories and to eventually gain an editorial position at the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond(biography) It was at this magazine that Poe finally found his spot as a writer.

Poe was one of the first writers to manipulate both horror and detective fiction together. Dupin, the investigating hero of Poe’s trilogy of ratiocination published in the early 1840s, is considered by many to be the first detective, a protagonist who logically follows a trail of clues and solves the mystery at the heart of the narrative(influence on poe). This kind of fiction has become extremely popular in the American culture, which has lead off to give more then one version of tv drama/ horror shows like sherlock, true detectives, law and order. All of these detective/ suspense shows owe their central credibility to early poets like Poe. Since detective fiction has existed, the American culture has become extremely obsessed over these shows. The culture has essentially made rules for these shows like, what is and isn’t allowed in detective fiction, citing outrageously classist restrictions (crimes must not be perpetrated by servants and other menials“ the reader demands a worthwhile suspect) to inexplicable, racist constraints (influence on poe). But the people who create these shows of detective fiction/ suspense have not followed the rules at all.

Poe has earned him a place in the English literature that not many people reach, as he is one of America’s first horror writers. His tales are filled with rare dungeons, gothic castles, and maniatic people. Even, American International Pictures adapted eight of his stories into films beginning in 1960, and writers as disparate as H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King have cited Poe as a major influence on their work As a child I always enjoyed reading stephen king novels and watching goosebumps T.V show. I remember it were really suspense and frightful to me but addicting to watch and intriguing so for Stephen King to be inspired by Poe proves how impactful he was on other English writers. His poetry exhibits an astounding popularity. “The Raven” is perhaps the most recognizable poem in the English language, its haunting sing-song rhythm and unforgettable imagery appealing not only to literary connoisseurs but also to school children and people who rarely read poetry. Everyone, it seems, knows the raven’s cry of “Nevermore.”( nox arcana). I believe it’s Poe’s command of language that has people so addicted to his writing. It elevates people and bring emotion of suspense and terror. Poe became so great, he was even compared to Shakespeare. Critics say he was a deliberate, precise wordsmith who labored over the placement of every dash and comma. Like Shakespeare, he could transcend the sordidness of his subject matter by the sheer force of his language (nox arcana).

Personally, One of my favorite poems by Poe is The Raven, published in 1845, appeared in the New York Evening Mirror and became an immediate popular sensation. My favorite chunk of the poem is ,

Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend! I shrieked, upstarting”

Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore! Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken! Leave my loneliness unbroken!”quit the bust above my door! Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door! (Famous poems by edgar allan poe)

This poem immediately became popular, reprinted and illustrated. It also got Poe out of poverty so he finally had a home. The poem is about the story of a lover who laments the death of his beloved Lenore and is visited by a raven. I find it fascinating how Poe thought of such dark object to talk to a human being while being in extreme emotional distress. I believe the talking raven represents more than simple personification. A raven is an ugly, black, heavily built crow and that adds special scariness to the poem. The raven also makes the lovers emotional distress go up by constantly repeating the word nevermore, slowly driving the lover crazy The poem makes use of a number of folk and mythological references; and is noted for its stylized language and supernatural atmosphere. It influenced numerous later works including the famous painting Nevermore by Paul Gauguin. The Raven is not only the most famous poem of Edgar Allan Poe but also one of the most renowned in English literature(Top famous poems). My favorite part about the poem is the sad, dark and imaginative atmosphere it builds. I am not surprised it influenced greatly known artists because the poem is full of emotion and mythological references.

My second favorite poem by poe has to be Annabel Lee, published in 1849. This was the last complete poem of Edgar Allan Poe and was published in New York Tribune on 9th October 1849(.famous poems by edgar allan poe) only two days after his death. I think it’s strange how such poem full strong emotions of love and longing released only two days before his death. My favorite part of the poem is 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(famous poems by edgar allan poe) Annabel Lee follows one of Poe’s famous theme’s, the death of a young, alluring, beautiful woman Poe probably fell in love with. The narrator, who is in love with Anabel, believes his and anabel’s love was so intense and strong, demons got jealous, but regardless, he would never stop loving her. Surely after Anabel’s death, the narrator holds her love and has hope they will see eachother again, in hell or heaven but eventually will reunite. Annabel Lee is thought to be written by Poe in memory of his wife Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe, who had died a couple of years earlier ( famous poems by edgar allan poe) One of Poe’s favorite themes to write about in his poems is the death of a young and beautiful woman and I believe it’s because he has been heartbroken a lot and expresses his emotions through his poems

My third most favorite poem is lonely, published in 1829. It’s one of my favorites because it’s deep in the sense that it expresses a lonely childhood full of sorrow and never found much joy as others. Out of the 22 lines, my favorite ones are the following, From the same source I have not taken My sorrow”I could not awaken My heart to joy at the same tone” And all I lov’d”I lov’d alone” (famous poems by edgar Allan Poe). This poem was written after the death of his foster mother Frances Allan. It was unpublished during his lifetime and was first published in Scribner’s Monthly with the title Alone in September 1875 (famous poems by edgar allan poe). I can imagine this made a big impact on people as the narrator is presented as first person looking back at old childhood memories as a sad and lonely child who was never loved back, as he loved others. As the lines say and all I lov’d- I lov’d alone. The tone of the poem sounds really dark and gothic

Poe has many great poems directed towards life realization. A dream within a dream, published in 1850 looks over the delicacy of time, how we look at it and its effects. Yet if hope has flown away In a night, or in a day, In a vision, or in none, Is it therefore the less gone? All that we see or seem Is but a dream within a dream (poestories). In this poem poe feels as if life has robbed him of love, purpose and desires since everything feels like a dream to him. He imagines important things in his life falling off his hands as if they were grains of sand. Poe feels unable to even hold one grain so he begins to question whether or not his life is a fantasy. The poem’s line All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream is one of the most popular quotes from the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe

My next favorite poem by Poe is Lenor published in 1843. It is named after another character from The Raven, which made the poem Lenore even more famous. It should also be noted that A Paean was the original title of this poem and it was first published as part of an early collection in 1831(10 most famous poems). My favorite lines of the poem are,

Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth and hated her for her pride, And when she fell in feeble health, ye blessed her“that she died! How shall the ritual, then, be read?“the requiem how be sung By you“by yours, the evil eye,“by yours, the slanderous tongue That did to death the innocent that died, and died so young?

This poem is about the death of a beautiful woman. The death of a beautiful woman, poe liked to call the most poetic thing in the word, which sounds quite twisted. But it makes sense for Poe to make poems of beautiful dead woman, because he has a dead wife and has gone through heartbreaks. There are about two lines with different speakers in the poem like Guy De Vere, Lenore’s dead wife.

Overall, Edgar Allan Poe brings people flashes of killer, maniacs, premature burials, and crazy people who came back from the dead. Poe is greatly known as the inventor of detective stories and the creator of science fiction genre. his reputation today is primarily held on his stories and poetry of terror. Poe is often thought of as unwholesome, hard to read person, probably looking in the shadows of cemeteries or dark castles. Poe has had a really dark past which is why he’s such a peculiar character. He greatly became a big influencer not just to the American society but also as an international writer. He was one of the first writers to manipulate both horror and detective fiction together. It’s incredible the way Poe became such a literary legend of detective fiction, suspense, horror and gloom. What is even more impressive is the fact that all of his writings mirror his past history! It’s no wonder he is so great at manipulating horror and detective fiction. It is because he writes with the heart and how he truly feels.

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The Biography of Edgar Allan Poe and His Contribution to the Horror Genre. (2019, Jun 26). Retrieved February 8, 2023 , from

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