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Edgar Allan Poe: A Biography in Quotes

Happy Birthday, Edgar Allan Poe! January 19 marked the birthdate of the American author, poet, critic, and master of the gothic horror genre. Even though his birthday was this past Tuesday, we can never get enough of the man who not only pioneered the detective fiction genre and popularized the concept of short stories, but made ravens shorthand for "Something spooky's going on."  Before his mysterious death in Baltimore and massive posthumous success, there were many experiences in his life that inspired his macabre writing style. In honor of his 207th birthday, here are 10 quotes from the man himself that tell the interesting story of his life. 

photo of clouds with quote from Poe From childhood's hour I have not been as others were I have not seen as others saw I could not awaken my heart to joy at the same tone and all I loved I loved alone

Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809, Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe and David Poe, Jr., both actors. After his father abandoned the family in 1810 and his mother died from tuberculosis the following year, Poe was taken in by John Allan and his family in Richmond, Virginia. 

graphic treatment of quote by Poe Literature is the most noble of professions In fact is is about the only one fit for a man For my own part there is no seducing me from the path

Poe began a brief stint in the military in 1827. While serving in the Army, Poe published a book of poems called Tamerlane and Other Poems, but it received no attention from critics. However, after purposefully getting court-martialed to leave the military in 1831, Poe began to seriously pursue a writing career. 

Edgar Allan Poe quote I have made no money I am as poor now as ever I was in my life except in hope which is by no means bankable

Poe’s writing career got off to a rough start. As many employers did not pay writers for their services due to an oversaturation of American periodicals at the time, Poe often struggled to make ends meet. 

Edgar Allan Poe quote But we loved with a love that was more than love

By 1833, Poe began publishing a few of his short stories in Philadelphia publications and even won a prize for his short story, MS. Found in a Bottle. Poe also married his 13- year-old cousin, Virginia Clemm, in Baltimore, Maryland, on September 22, 1835. 

Edgar Allan poe quote Men have called me mad but the question is not yet settled whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence

In 1842, Poe’s wife fell ill with tuberculosis. Unable to deal with the stress, Poe began to drink and alienated himself from fellow writers and colleagues. 

First few lines of The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

Despite his personal troubles, Poe’s poem, The Raven, was published in The Evening Standard and became a national sensation. For the first time in his career, Poe became a household name. 

Edgar Allan Poe quote Deep in earth my love is lying and I must weep alone

On January 30, 1847, Virginia Poe finally died from tuberculosis at the couple's home in New York. 

The death then of a beautiful woman is unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world and equally it is beyond doubt that the lips best suited for such topic are those of a bereaved lover

By this point in his life, Poe had lost his biological mother, his foster parents, and his wife. Due to the deaths that he had experienced, Poe focused using on using death and horror themes in his work.

Edgar Allan Poe quote I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity

After the death of his wife, Poe's alcoholism got worse and he displayed signs of mental illness.

Edgar Allan Poe quote What we call death is but the painful metamorphosis Our present incarnation is progressive preparatory temporary our future is perfected ultimate immortal The ultimate life is the full design

Poe died mysteriously on the streets of Baltimore, Maryland on October 3, 1849. He was in distress and allegedly called out the name “Reynolds” repeatedly before his death. Poe’s death certificate was lost, so the cause of his death remains a mystery to this day. 

Visit the NEA Big Read website for more on Poe. 

Sources: 

1. "Alone"
2.Letter to Frederick W. Thomas, 1849
3. Letter to Frederick W. Thomas, 1845
4. "Annabel Lee"
5. "Eleonora"
6. "The Raven"
7. "Deep in Earth"
8. "The Philosophy of Composition"
9. Letter to a fan, 1848
10."Mesmeric Revelation"

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