Edgar Allan Poe (1809–49) is arguably the most well-known American Romantic who worked in the Gothic genre. His poetry and short tales delve into the darker side of the Romantic imagination, dealing with the bizarre, otherworldly, and horrific.
Poe was interested in more than just horror writing. He also produced poems that deal with social issues such as mental illness and alcoholism. In addition, he wrote essays on literature, politics, science, and history. Thus, Edgar Allan Poe can be considered a major force in the development of the Gothic novel and in the creation of modern literary genres such as the mystery and the essay.
He was born on January 19, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts. His father was a wealthy lawyer; his mother was an amateur poet and artist. When Poe was only eight years old, his family moved to Baltimore, Maryland where his father had been appointed attorney general by President James Monroe. A few months later, they returned to Boston where Poe completed his elementary education. He then spent three years (1825–8) at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, studying English literature, philosophy, and law. During this time, he also began publishing poems and stories in local newspapers.
Upon graduating from university, Poe decided to travel throughout Europe for several years.
Poe was an American writer who was a member of the Romantic Movement, namely the subgenre of Dark Romanticism. He rose to prominence as a poet, short-story writer, editor, and literary critic, and is credited with establishing the genre of Gothic Literature with his dark, horrific stories of terror. Many critics view him as one of the most significant writers in English language history.
Poe's work pre-dating that of Charles Dickens by about fifteen years made him one of the first true modern authors. His influence on subsequent writers such as Stephen King and J.J. Abrams is undeniable. Even today his work continues to find new readers who appreciate its contribution to the Gothic genre and the Modern Tradition.
In addition to being highly regarded for his poetry and short stories, he has been called America's first professional writer because of his salary from Baltimore newspaper The Evening Mirror. However, despite his enormous impact on the American literary scene, his life was riddled with poverty, mental illness, and alcoholism which led to his death at age 37.
His best known poems include "The Raven", "The Bells", and "Ulalume". His short stories include "The Tell-Tale Heart", "William Wilson", "The Cask of Amontillado", and "The Pit and the Pendulum".
Edgar Allen Poe is a well-known maestro of mystery, suspense, and horror, as well as a master of the literary Gothic style. Death and decay, as well as mental instability and emotional turmoil, are common themes in his short works.
Poe's poetry is often difficult to read because of its morbid subject matter. His poems deal with death, insanity, and other subjects that would not be considered appropriate for children's books. However, several of his poems are quite beautiful.
Poe published only two full-length novels during his lifetime: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket and The Gold-Bug. However, many critics consider three novellas to be valid additions to his oeuvre: "The Fall of the House of Usher", "Ligeia", and "The Raven".
Poe also wrote numerous essays, reviews, and letters about literature and art. He originally wanted to become an actor but was unable to support himself as a freelancer so he turned to writing instead. His work made him famous and enabled him to pay the bills, but it also brought on many problems that led to mental illness and even death at a relatively young age.