Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) life history & famous works

edgar allen poe
Categories : American Literature

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

edgar allen poe

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) was an American writer who made significant contributions to the genres of short stories, detective fiction, and science fiction. Here is a biography of Edgar Allan Poe and an overview of his famous works:

Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809, in Boston, Massachusetts. His parents, both actors, died when he was young, and he was subsequently orphaned. Poe was taken in by John and Frances Allan, a wealthy family from Richmond, Virginia.

Poe attended various schools and briefly studied at the University of Virginia, but he struggled with financial difficulties and turned to gambling to support himself. He left the university and enlisted in the United States Army, serving for a short period before being discharged. He then pursued a career as a writer.

In 1836, Poe married his first cousin, Virginia Clemm, who was only 13 years old at the time. Their marriage has been interpreted as an attempt by Poe to find the stable family life he had lacked. However, Virginia’s declining health and eventual death had a significant impact on Poe’s emotional state and writing.

Throughout his life, Poe faced financial hardships and struggled with alcoholism and depression. He worked as an editor, literary critic, and writer, contributing to various publications. Despite his literary talent, Poe struggled to achieve financial success and recognition during his lifetime.

Famous Works:


  1. “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (1841): This short story is considered one of the first detective stories in literature. It features the brilliant detective C. Auguste Dupin, who solves a seemingly unsolvable crime.
  2. “The Raven” (1845): Perhaps Poe’s most famous work, “The Raven” is a narrative poem that tells the story of a man who is visited by a talking raven. The poem explores themes of grief, loss, and the haunting persistence of the past.
  3. “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839): This Gothic short story follows a narrator who visits the decaying mansion of his childhood friend, Roderick Usher. The story delves into themes of madness, decay, and the power of the subconscious.
  4. “The Tell-Tale Heart” (1843): This chilling short story explores the mind of a narrator who becomes obsessed with the “vulture eye” of an old man and ultimately commits murder. It delves into themes of guilt, paranoia, and the thin line between sanity and madness.
  5. “The Pit and the Pendulum” (1842): Set during the Spanish Inquisition, this story follows a prisoner who endures torture in a dungeon. It captures the protagonist’s fear, psychological torment, and the suspense of his ultimate escape.
  6. “The Masque of the Red Death” (1842): In this allegorical tale, a prince attempts to escape a deadly plague known as the Red Death by hiding in his opulent castle. The story explores themes of mortality, the inevitability of death, and the consequences of selfishness and excess.

Edgar Allan Poe’s works are characterized by their dark and mysterious themes, psychological exploration, and a focus on the macabre. His writings often deal with themes of death, madness, and the human psyche. Poe’s contributions to American literature have had a lasting impact and his unique style continues to captivate readers to this day.

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) was an American writer known for his dark and mysterious works: 

“To Science” (1829): This sonnet, published as a prologue to “Al Aaraaf,” addresses Science as a destroyer of beauty, symbolizing its ability to alter and prey upon the heart of its lover.

“The Raven” (1845): Inspired by Dickens’ “Barnaby Rudge,” this famous poem tells the story of a grieving student visited by a talking raven. The repeated word “Nevermore” drives the student to desperation and symbolizes his frustration and longing. The poem reflects Poe’s own mournful memories of his deceased wife.

“To Helen” (1836): Originally written for Mrs. Jane Stanard, a friend’s mother, this poem praises the nurturing power of women. It idealizes classical beauty and symbolizes the poet’s emotional and creative state through the figure of Helen.

“The Bell” (1849): An onomatopoeic poem, “The Bell” mourns the loss of Poe’s wife, Virginia. Divided into four parts, it explores life’s progression from youth to old age, using the passing seasons as a metaphor.

“Al Aaraaf, A Palace” (1829): This allusive poem draws inspiration from stories in the Qur’an and describes the afterlife in a place called Al Aaraaf. It incorporates themes of ideal love and beauty, with characters personifying emotions.

El Dorado” (1849): This poem follows a gallant knight on a journey in search of the mythical city of treasures known as El Dorado. It serves as a reaction to the California Gold Rush of 1849.

Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque: Poe’s collection of short stories includes famous works such as “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Purloined Letter,” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.” These stories often delve into themes of horror, madness, and psychological tension.

“The Philosophy of Composition” (1846): In this essay, Poe analyzes his own poem, “The Raven,” to illustrate his method of writing poetry. He argues for the importance of brevity, unity of impression, and logical method in creating effective writing.

As an Anti-Transcendentalist: Poe, a Dark Romanticist, held a contrasting perspective to the optimism and belief in human greatness of the Transcendentalists. He expressed his disapproval of Transcendentalism in his works, such as “Never Bet the Devil Your Head,” and criticized their excesses in his essay, “The Philosophy of Composition.”

New England Transcendentalism: The Transcendentalist movement, developed in New England, was a reaction against 18th-century rationalism. It emphasized the unity of the world and God, the presence of God in nature, and individualism. Some Transcendentalists were involved in experimental utopian communities, such as Brook Farm.

Edgar Allan Poe’s works continue to be celebrated for their dark, mysterious, and psychological elements. His impact on American literature is profound, and he is recognized as a significant figure in the development of the short story and detective fiction genres.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82)

Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He attended Boston Latin School and Harvard College before pursuing a career as a Unitarian minister.

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