Little Bits of History

Edgar Allan Poe

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 6, 2010

Edgar Allan Poe

March 6, 1831: Edgar Allan Poe is removed from West Point. Poe (1809-1849) was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He had an older brother and a younger sister. His mother, an actress died from consumption in 1811, one year after the father had abandoned his family. Edgar was taken in by a merchant from Richmond named John Allan. Poe was never legally adopted, but he took Allan’s name as his middle name.

At 17, Poe attended the University of Virginia in 1826 and was expelled for nonpayment of gambling debts. He quarreled with Allan and was disowned by him over this breach of etiquette. Unable to support himself, Poe then joined the army under an assumed name while lying about his age. He also began his published life with the release of a 40-page collection of poems called Tamerlane and Other Poems.

In 1830 he entered West Point and on this date of 1831 he was expelled for neglect of duties. Over the next several years he worked for several publications all the while writing some of his most famous short stories. Poe is credited with writing the first detective stories. He also contributed to the newly emerging genre of science fiction. He was the first well-known American author to try to make a living from his writing but found international copyright laws detrimental to his income stream. In 1836, Poe married his 13-year-old cousin, Virginia Clemm. Clemm became ill and remained an invalid for the last five years of her life, dying in 1847.

A devastated Poe turned to alcohol and drugs. He struggled with depression and outright madness. He was found in Baltimore, “delirious and in great distress” on October 3, 1849. He was taken to Washington College Hospital where he died at 5 AM on October 7. He did not revive enough between those two dates to give a coherent explanation regarding his condition. He was not wearing his own clothes at the time he was found. All records have been lost and we do not know what was his cause of death.

“I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it.” – Edgar Allan Poe

“Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words.” – Edgar Allan Poe

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.” – Edgar Allan Poe

“Why do an infinite number of monkeys always want to type “Hamlet”? What’s wrong with “Macbeth”? Why not something by Dickens or Poe?” – Tom Knapp

Also on this day, in 1820 the Missouri Compromise was signed by President James Monroe

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