In Edgar Allan Poe's lifetime and today, critics think that there are striking similarities between what Poe lived and what he wrote. His melancholy, often-depressing stories are thought to reflect his feelings. There is truth to this, although his entire life was not miserable. In fact, in some of his poems, the good characters are modeled after him. Edgar Allan Poe's writing was affected by many things in his life, including his turbulent childhood, his poverty, and his many tragic losses.
In Poe's childhood, he had five parents. His original mother and father Elizabeth Arnold and David Poe ,Jr.; John Allan and Fanny Allan who took him in after his mother died and his father left him; and Jane Mackenzie whom he thought of as his mother. Elizabeth Arnold was a famous actress who everyone loved. Kenneth Silverman thinks that she initially instilled a love of the arts in Poe.(9) Unfortunately however, she died when he was only two years old. David Poe Jr. was also an actor, but he did not gain nearly as much critical acclaim because of his stage fright and a tendency to mumble. He left soon after Edgar was born and went to Baltimore where he lived for a few years and gained a reputation as a drunk. It is thought that he died at age twenty-seven in either New York or Baltimore.
After his mother's death, Poe was sent to live with John and Frances Allan who gave him a life radically different from the one he had known. Kenneth Silverman says that in his new life, Poe found material wealth and love instead of poverty and abandonment .(11) At age thirteen, Poe went with John Allan to London where he received a strict boarding sch...
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...hose who were not, they passed him off as just another magazine writer, drowning in his own mediocrity. The wide variety of critical evaluation he received is what made him a truly great writer.
Gottesman, Donald (ed.). 1979. The Norton Anthology of American Literature (vol.1). New York: W.W. Norton and Company. p1204-1206.
Jacobs, William Jay. Edgar Allan Poe. McGraw-Hill Books. New York: 1975.
Poe, Edgar Allan. The Unabridged Edgar Allan Poe. Courage Books. New York: 1997.
Porges, Irwin. Edgar Allan Poe. Chilton Books. Boston: 1963.
Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: A Mournful and Never-Ending Remembrance. Harper Collins Publishing. San Francisco: 1991.
Wagenknecht, Edward. Edgar Allan Poe the Man Behind the Legend. University Press. New York: 1963.
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