On January 19, 1809, which American author was born?

And the answer: Edgar Allan Poe.

Born in 1809, the poet, author, and literary critic Edgar Allan Poe is best known for his profound short stories and poems, such as "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Raven." After a lifetime of sorrow, he died at the young age of 40.    

Photo credit: public domain. 

Often referred to as the "Father of the Detective Story," Poe was a master of the macabre. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1809, Poe's mother passed away when the young poet was just two years old, leaving him orphaned. Poe was then taken into the Allan family as a foster, and by the time he reached his teenage years, Poe was writing prolifically. In 1826, Poe enrolled at the University of Virginia, yet the effort was short lived. Lacking the funds to keep him enrolled, Poe attempted to gamble the money, but was left in greater debt and forced to withdraw from the university.

In 1830, Poe enrolled in West Point instead. Yet this, too, did not stick. His foster father, John Allan, failed to provide Poe with sufficient funds to maintain himself as a cadet nor give the consent necessary to resign from the Academy. So Poe gained a dismissal by ignoring his duties and violating regulations. After cutting ties with Allan, Poe moved to New York City, where he published his third collection of verse titled Poems. The next few years were similarly difficult for Poe, as he struggled to make a living off of his work.

Finally, his first break came. In 1835, Poe accepted an editorship in Richmond, Virginia, at The Southern Literary Messenger. This journal was the first of many that Poe would helm, and ultimately served to become his most profitable enterprise. While Poe’s writings gained attention in the late 1830s and early 1840s, the profits from his work remained meager, and he supported himself by editing Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine and Graham’s Magazine in Philadelphia and the Broadway Journal in New York City. Today, Poe is remembered fondly as one of the architects of the modern short story, as well as for his poems and critical theories.

Learn more about Edgar Allan Poe below.

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