Many authors' literary works are often influenced by their own personal life experiences. Among these authors is Edgar Allan Poe, one of the most inventive writers of prose and poetry in the nineteenth century. The juxtaposition of Poe's life and work is most evident in the morbid personalities and melancholy themes of his literary compositions, similar to those of his life.
Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 19, 1809. His mother, Elizabeth Arnold Poe, had been widowed at eighteen, and two years after his birth she died of tuberculosis at the age of twenty-four. Poe's paternal grandfather had been a wealthy man, but his father, David Poe, had left the family to become an actor, and Edgar was left with nothing. When his mother died, John Allan, a Richmond tobacco merchant, at the urging of his wife, Frances Allan, adopted Edgar. She was devoted to Edgar, and in his childhood he enjoyed a security that was never to be his again after he left home. In 1815 John Allan took the family to England in the hope of furthering his business. During the next five years Edgar attended various schools, the most significant of which was the Manor House School at Stoke Newington. The gothic atmosphere of this school provided him with many details he was later to make use of in his fiction. He wrote about his impressions of the London school in a story called "William Wilson". (Meyers, 1992, p.12).
During the fall of 1823, when Edgar was fourteen years old, his classmate Robert Stanard introduced Poe to his mother, Jane Stanard, who was a beautiful and compassionate young woman. Edgar became devoted to her. He called her Helen, which to his ears sounded far more...
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...7, 1849, at 5:00am. (Meyers, 1992, p.254-255).
Edgar Allan Poe's deplorable life was filled with unfortunate calamity, endless tragedies, and pathetic misery, which inevitably led to his pessimistic view on life and obsession with death. His personal mind frame is automatically conveyed in his essays, which for him was a primary form of expression. Thus, a strong emphasis on somber despondency has proven to be a thematic element of his literary career.
Krutch, Joseph Wood. Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Alfred A. Knopp, 1926.
May, Charles E. Edgar Allan Poe; A Study of the Short Fiction. Boston: Twayne's
Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe; His Life and Legacy. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1992.
Poe, Edgar A. The Complete Tales of Mystery and Imagination. New York: Octopus
Books Inc., 1981.
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