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Poe, a great 19th-century American author, was born on Jan 19, 1809, in Boston, Mass. Both his parents died when Poe was two years old, and he was taken into the home of John Allan, a wealthy tobacco exporter of Richmond, Va. Although Poe was never legally adopted, he used his foster father’s name as his middle name.

After several years in a Richmod academy, Poe was sent to the University of Virginia. After a year, John Allan refused to give him more money, possibly because of Poe’s losses at gambling. Poe then had to leave the university.

In 1827 he published, in Boston, Tamerlane and Other Poems. This was the first volume of his poems, and was published anonymously. The book made no money, and Poe enlisted in the United States Army under an assumed name. After he served two years, his foster father arranged for him to be honorably discharged and to enter the United States Military Academy. But, within six months, Poe was dismissed because of neglect of duty.

Poe then began to write stories for magazines. In 1831, he published Poems by Edgar A. Poe, which he dedicated to the cadets of the U.S. Military Academy. In 1833, he won a cash prize for the story MS. Found in a Bottle. In 1835, he jointed the staff of the Richmond Magazine, Southern Literary Messenger. Within a year, the circulation of the magazine increased seven times thanks to the popularity of Poe’s stories.

Poe, however, soon lost his job with the magazine because of his drinking. In 1836, he married beautiful Virginia Clemm, the 13-year-old daughter of his aunt. The following year he lived in New York City, and the next year he drifted to Philadelphia. There he became associate editor of Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine. He contributed literary criticism, reviews, poems, and some of his most famous stories to this magazine.

In 1840, Poe published Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, a two-volume set of his stories. As literary editor of Graham’s Magazine, he wrote the famous stories, A Descent into the Maelstrom, and The Masque of Red Death. In 1843, Poe won a prize of his story The Gold Bug. This story, along with such earlier tales as The Purloined Letter and The Murders in the Rue Morgue, set the standard of the modern detective story. He reached the heights of his fame in 1845 with his poem The Raven. That same year he was appointed literary critic of the New York Mirror.

The long illness of Virginia Poe and her death in 1847 almost wrecked Poe. His mental and physical condition grew steadily worse, and he tried to commit suicide. Still, in 1848 and 1849 Poe was able to deliver a series of lecture tours. He died in 1849 in Baltimore, and the notes from his lectures were published posthumously in 1850, under the title The Poetic Principles. The work, along with The Rationale of Verse (1843) and The Philosophy of Composition (1846) ranks among the best examples of Poe’s literary criticism.

Dmitry Karshtedt