Life, Death, and Poetry: The Story of Edgar Allan Poe


Edgar Allan Poe is one of the most influential writers of all time. Everyone knows his name. He has written some of the most famous pieces such as The Tell-Tale Heart and The Raven. Although his work is truly remarkable, his life was far from that. His past life was a mess, to say the least. In this article, I will be discussing his past and how influential that was to his work.

Egar Allan Poe was born in 1809, and by the time he was 3 years old, both his parents had passed away. He then went to his wealthy godfather John Allan. Years later, after his schooling in England, he attended the University of Virginia, but after around 8 months he was forced to drop out because of fighting with his godfather about his gambling debts. He then enlisted in the army for 2 years, but then was dismissed for infractions. Soon after, his godfather cut Poe off completely on top of all this as well.

After all of this Poe started writing, but they never got much attention. But then because of financial trouble, he moved into his aunt and cousin’s house. At this time he was publishing and editing stories in a magazine from that area and married his 13-year-old cousin that he was living with. During this time period was when he wrote some of his most famous works such as The Tell-Tale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher. Then, his wife tragically dies in 1847 of tuberculosis, and his life-long struggle of depression and alcoholism got worse. Later Poe would go to seek out writing jobs in Philadelphia, but for unknown reasons, he had stopped at a bar in Baltimore for some drinks. There he was found unconscious by a bystander. After 4 days in the hospital, he was pronounced dead for “acute congestion of the brain”. There was never an official death certificate signed, nor was the cause of death ever fully found. Some theories of his cause of death are suicide, murder, rabies, influenza, or he could have been a victim of cooping.

Because of Edgar Allan Poe’s very tragic and difficult life, it is believed that his work is a reflection of what goes on through his mind. He is one of the most influential horror writers and is one of the most well known American poets. A lot of his work consisted of themes of death and loss, which was what went on a lot for a long duration of his life. A few of his short stories contained main characters going mad and committing murder and/or abuse. For example, his short story The Tell-Tale Heart fully exemplifies how much emotional distress he was really under. Looking at the story itself, we would never even imagine doing such an unimaginable act, but that was most likely what went through Poe’s mind. A writer’s works reflect the emotions he is feeling, and he was obviously under some terrible distress.

After analyzing Edgar Allan Poe’s work I can finally understand how he could write about these horrific tales. His past has obviously reflected his onto his writing, and that has led to believe that he was crazy. If his work was parallel to his past, then are there things that we do not know? This is something that we will never know, but next time you read his work, think about what went through his mind at the time and try to connect all the pieces.