Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy

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Edgar Allan Poe was an American author of short stories, a poet, a literary critic, and an editor. Poe was alive during the romantic era which was evident in his writing, and he was one of the first gothic writers of his time. He told dark tales that often included a dead or sickly woman and a tormented male figure.

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It is believed that Poe’s childhood and relationships to women throughout his life had a big impact on his writing. The women in Poe’s family were often sickly and many of them passed away without living a full lifespan.

Poe was born on January 19th, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts. His birth parents, Elizabeth Eliza Poe and David Poe Jr., were two professional actors. His family moved to New York City in the summer of 1809. Poe was the second child, William Poe was the older son and was two years older than Poe. Poe’s mother was far more successful than his father, and David spent most of his acting career in the shadows while Eliza was in the spotlight. This angered David, who was an alcoholic, and caused him to leave her and his acting career behind shortly after the birth of Edgar. Eliza had one more child, a girl by the name of Rosalie Poe who’s father is uncertain, but Poe believed she was his full sister and the daughter of David (Edgar Allan Poe).

Edgar’s aunt and David’s sister Maria Poe Clemm, didn’t believe that Rosalie was the daughter of David or Eliza. When Rosalie was a child, a wealthy man from Richmond, Virginia left $2,000 towards Rosalie’s upbringing, she was the only person who he left that much money for. Rosalie Poe was described as backwards and was believed to be mentally retarded. She was separated from Poe around the age of 1 and was adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Mackenzie and didn’t develop mentally past the age of 12. Rosalie wasn’t in contact with Edgar during the beginning of her life and was unaware of her siblings. Later in her life she contacted her blood relatives although Poe was said to have neglected her. He would visit her from time to time and she would cling on to him, he was almost disgusted by her and would constantly tease her. After the civil war, she started selling pictures of Edgar Allan Poe and ordinary household items saying they belonged to Poe. She died in a charity home in 1874 and her tombstone states she was born in 1812, a year after Eliza’s death (Meyers).

In 1811, the Poe family was at a boarding house in Richmond, Virginia for one of Eliza’s performances. Eliza started spitting up blood and showing the first signs of tuberculosis.

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