Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American writer, poet, editor and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective-fiction genre. He is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.
He was born as Edgar Poe in Boston, Massachusetts; he was orphaned young when his mother died shortly after his father abandoned the family. Poe was taken in by John and Frances Allan, of Richmond, Virginia, but they never formally adopted him. He attended the University of Virginia for one semester but left due to lack of money. After enlisting in the Army and later failing as an officer's cadet at West Point, Poe parted ways with the Allans. Poe's publishing career began humbly, with an anonymous collection of poems, Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827), credited only to "a Bostonian."
Poe switched his focus to prose and spent the next several years working for literary journals and periodicals, becoming known for his own style of literary criticism. His work forced him to move between several cities, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City. In Baltimore in 1835, he married Virginia Clemm, his 13-year-old cousin. In January 1845, Poe published his poem "The Raven" to instant success. His wife died of tuberculosis two years later. He began planning to produce his own journal, The Penn (later renamed The Stylus), though he died before it could be produced. On October 7, 1849, at age 40, Poe died in Baltimore; the cause of his death is unknown and has been variously attributed to alcohol, brain congestion, cholera, drugs, heart disease, rabies, suicide, tuberculosis, and other agents.
Poe and his works influenced literature in the United States and around the world, as well as in specialized fields, such as cosmology and cryptography. Poe and his work appear throughout popular culture in literature, music, films, and television. A number of his homes are dedicated museums today.
He was born Edgar Poe in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 19, 1809, the second child of actress Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe and actor David Poe, Jr. He had an elder brother, William Henry Leonard Poe, and a younger sister, Rosalie Poe. Edgar may have been named after a character in William Shakespeare's King Lear, a play the couple was performing in 1809. His father abandoned their family in 1810, and his mother died a year later from consumption. Poe was then taken into the home of John Allan, a successful Scottish merchant in Richmond, Virginia, who dealt in a variety of goods including tobacco, cloth, wheat, tombstones, and slaves. The Allans served as a foster family but never formally adopted Poe, though they gave him the name "Edgar Allan Poe."
POE FORWARD MISSION STATEMENT
The primary mission of Poe Forward is to showcase the work of artists who have been influenced by the mind and work of Edgar Allan Poe. We believe that Edgar Poe, through his editorial criticism as well as his poetry and his multi-genre fiction, created the foundations of all American literature. In addition to performance, we interview contemporary artists, recording their mutual history with Poe. Poe Forward combines the past with the present--for tomorrow. Our secondary mission, but just as important, is to present the true character of Edgar Poe, the uncompromising, hard-working, virulent critic and writer, instead of the melodramatic, "tortured artist" of 19th century romantic mythology. This falsehood has haunted Poe since his arch rival and chief enemy, the Reverend Rufus Griswold, lied about Poe and maligned his reputation in an libelous obituary subsequent to the poet’s death. In the years since, his friends and associates, as well as scholars and historians through to today, have sought to clear his name. Certainly, like each of us, Poe had his demons as well as his troubles with women and alcohol, but rather than dwell on his mortal shortcomings, we endeavor to illuminate his eternal genius.
--Brian Aldrich & David Delgado, Co-Founders of Poe Forward, 1999