Edgar Allan Poe
EDGAR ALLAN POE (1809-1849)
Although one of America's first important writers, Poe's tragic private life provokes almost as much discussion as his writing. Born in Boston the son of peniless actors, Poe was orphaned at the age of three and taken into the home of Scotish tobacco merchant John Allan. An increasingly strained relationship with Allan lead to expulsion from both the University of Virginia and West Point and, after a brief but distinguished period in the army, Poe turned to journalism. Though he became well known both as an journalist and a writer of fiction, his salary never matched his fame and Poe spent most of his life in extreme poverty. In 1836 he married his then thirteen year old cousin Virginia Clemm - a relationship into which much has been read. After a period of increasing mental instability following the death of Virginia, Poe died of 'delerium' in Baltimore in unexplained circumstances.
Poe is widely remembered as the master of Gothic Horror, but he also developed many of the conventions of Science Fiction and, with 'Rue Morgue', created the detective fiction genre. Poe had both a deep fascination with science and a suspicion of its dogmatism and materialism. This conflict of the rational and the imaginative, natural and supernatural and a desire to see it resolved lies at the heart of much of his work.
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