“Quoth the Raven, Nevermore”

You’ve probably heard that Edgar Allan Poe poem more than once. Today I’m channeling that famous quote to honor Poe’s birthday.

Edgar Poe was born on January 19, 1809, in Boston, Mass. Unfortunately Poe’s parents died a few years later, and Poe and his siblings were split up and sent to live with different families. Poe was sent to live with the Allan family in Virginia. Poe’s foster father was a wealthy merchant, and the family traveled to England.

Poe eventually landed back in the U.S. to attend the University of Richmond in Virginia. He studied Latin and poetry, but a gambling problem strained his relationship with his foster parents and forced him to drop out of school. He then enlisted in the army, during which time he wrote poetry. In 1827, his first poem and his first book were published.

In 1836, Poe married Virgina Eliza Clemm and they moved to New York City. Then, in 1838, his first and only complete novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, was published.  Also in 1838, Poe and his wife moved to Philadelphia, Pa.

The Poe house in Philadelphia is a historic site and tourist attraction. Poe spent six years here, during which time he wrote some of his most famous poems and short stories. These included The Murders in the Rue Morgue (which is considered the first detective story), The Tell-Tale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher. He also began work on The Raven while he was here.

Poe finished The Raven after moving to the Bronx in New York. It was here that his wife Virginia died. He then married Elmira Royster, a sweetheart of his from Richmond. The two embarked on a poetry reading and lecture tour, which Poe hoped would help raise funds for a magazine he wanted to start.

Eventually Poe and Elmira settled in Baltimore, Md. He died here on October 7, 1849, and was buried in an unmarked grave in Baltimore’s Old Westminster Burying Ground. Poe’s death is shrouded in mystery, with many conflicting accounts of it ranging from alcoholism to murder to death from diseases.

Today is not a day to hypothesize about his death, though. Today is a day to remember Poe’s life and to celebrate his works. Click here to find out what Edgar Allan Poe holdings Rohrbach Library owns.

Happy Birthday, Poe!

-CS

Sources: The Literature Network, My Travel Guide

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