Born on January 19, 1809, in Boston, Massachusetts, Poe became a famous poet, short-story writer, and literary critic. Both of his parents were actors, but Poe found himself alone at age two because his mother died and his father had abandoned the family. This left Poe in the care of John Allan who raised him but didn't adopt him. An only child, Poe enjoyed the comforts of his wealthy family, played sports, and gained an education. Leaving for the University of Virginia, he fell into gambling. He didn't attend classes and fought with his father over money. Rather than finish his schooling, Poe joined the army where he obtained the rank of Sergeant Major for Artillery. Anonymously publishing a collection of poems, but not happy and wanting to end his five-year military commitment early, Poe admitted that he'd lied about his age. The army would only let him leave if he reconciled with his father and then attended West Point Military Academy.
Poe's bad habits continued. His foster father didn't agree to see him until after his foster mother died. Poe married and continued writing but also engaged in immoral and questionable affairs. He purposefully received a dishonorable discharge from West Point and moved to New York to pen more poems. It was very difficult for a writer to survive on writing alone without international copyright laws and hard financial times. Yet, Poe turned from poetry to writing stories and found a degree of success. He remarried and lived with his wife's mother for a time while he published his works. Poe tried his hand again as an editor, this time not getting himself fired for being drunk, and also found employment as a literary critic for several years, moving from city to city. Already almost an alcoholic, Poe was further distressed and grieved when his wife died of tuberculosis. Still writing, Poe published his poem "The Raven," and it was an instant success with the public. However, Poe received very little money from its publication. Continuing to drink while he unsuccessfully courted wealthy women, Poe found himself impoverished and alone. A trailblazer in his own right as one of the earliest authors of the short-story, one of the first American writers to try living by writing alone, and perhaps the creator of the detective-fiction genre, Poe's name, though, is often associated with sadness and despair. He died on October 3, 1849, at forty years of age.
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