The son of actors, Poe was adopted after the death of his mother in 1811 by John Allan and his
wife and the name Allan was added. Spending most of his youth in Virginia, Poe studied in
Scotland and England before returning to Virginia in 1820. He attended the University of
Virginia but never completed his studies because of indebtedness. Although well-liked and
active in sports, Poe was already developing character traits that would influence his later life.
He was introspective, brooding and solitary. Poe spent two years in the military (1827-29) and
reached the rank of Sergeant-Major. He was recommended for West Point, but decided to
embark on his writing career which began with the publication of Tamerlane And Other Poems
in 1827. Poe actually spent almost two years at West Point, but was courtmartialed and
dismissed for gross derilection of duty in 1831. In March of that year, he published his Poems
Second Edition in New York. Poe, who by now had begun writing prose, was an assistant editor
of the Southern Literary Messenger from 1835 until 1838. He became co-editor of the
Gentleman's Magazine in Philadelphia where he wrote The Fall Of The House Of Usher, William
Wilson, etc. In 1840, a collection of 24 of his tales was published in two volumes as Tales of the
Grotesque and Arabesque. He joined Graham's Magazine in 1840, and contributed some of his
best-known works such as A Descent Into The Maelstrom, The Murders In The Rue Morgue and The
Mystery Of Marie Roget. The Gold Bug, published in 1843 won a literary prize, and that year also
saw the publication of The Black Cat and the Tell-Tale Heart. Poe spent some time as literary critic
to the New York Mirror (1844-45). From 1844 to his death in 1849, Poe produced some of his
most memorable poetry, e.g. The Raven, Annabel Lee and Valley Of Unrest. Poe was found near
a tavern in Baltimore in 1849 in a state of delerium and died on October 7th, 1849.
Poe is considered to have been the most important American poet before Whitman and a true
innovator in American literature. He is credited with inventing the detective novel, and his
works of the macabre and horror still bring chills to today's readers.