Today I want to talk with you about one of the world’s most famous horror writers is Edgar Allen Poe.
A name synonymous with Ravens, secret shadows, and dark deeds. He has inspired countless other writers, filmmakers and creators across the board. To sum up such an important figure for the horror genre in a simple blog is like trying to strike a match on jelly. But that’s not going to stop me from having a go.
Edgar Allen Poe was born in Boston on January 19th 1809. His mother was Elizabeth and his father, David. He had one elder brother, William and a younger sister Rosalie. The family came originally from Ireland in the 1700s
Edgar’s early childhood was difficult, his father abandoned the family and his mother died the year after his father left. Edgar was taken in by John Allen (hence his middle name) and while he was never formally adopted he was raised with the Allen family. The rumours are that during his youth with the Allen family Edgar was spoiled but also disciplined harshly.
The family came from America to Britain in the 1800s where Edgar was educated before returning to America. Back in the USA Edgar attended university to study languages, where he incurred a great deal of gambling debt which caused him to become estranged from his foster family. Edgar left university after his second year. After leaving university, Edgar moved back to Boston where he took odd jobs as a clerk and as a writer for a newspaper.
Working as a Writer
After his brother died Edgar decided to kick start his career as a writer. This was a difficult endeavour due to the lack of copyright laws (publishers would pinch British work for free rather than employ American writers). Due to this, it was almost impossible to be financially stable by writing alone, and Edgar often had to beg or borrow money.
He started writing prose over poetry, and this was something of a turning point as he managed to get a few pieces published and began working on a drama piece, Politian.
He received a prize from the Baltimore Saturday Advisor in 1833, for the story MS Found in a Bottle. This story leads to Edgar making friends who in turn helped him place more stories with magazines. Edgar then became an assistant editor for the Southern Literary Messenger, however, this did not last initially, as he was caught drunk at work. But he was reinstated soon thereafter and remained at the Messenger until 1837. While there he published several poems, reviews and critiques.
Edgar went on to become assistant editor for Burtons Gentleman’s Magazine and published numerous articles, stories and reviews. He published Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque in 1839 but this did not do overly well financially. Edgar then moved to Grahams Magazine. In 1840 he announced that he would publish his own monthly publication, but this did not come to pass before his death.
In January 1842 Edgars wife fell ill and he began drinking heavily to deal with the stress and emotional turmoil. He left Grahams and worked for a time for the Evening Mirror before becoming the editor for Broadway Journal. In January 1845 he published The Raven in the Evening Mirror to much success.
The Broadway Journal failed in 1846 and his wife passed the year after. Edgar passed away in 1849 after being found in great distress wandering the streets.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on Poe?