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Edgar Allan Poe’s Life Was More Mysterious Than the Stories He Wrote, and Here’s Why

A copy of Edgar Allan Poe’s very first book was auctioned for $662,500 after his death. But surprisingly, when he initially released the book, it received no recognition. The poet spent most of his life drowning in debt. Even though we regard Edgar Allan Poe as the pioneer of mystery and macabre today, he was labeled as someone who “walked the streets in madness” by his rivals back in the day.

Upon taking a deeper look at the poet’s life, we at Bright Side found that his story is no less mysterious or interesting than any of his poems. Here are some facts about Edgar Allan Poe for our readers to enjoy.

1. He was orphaned by the age of 2.

Following Edgar’s birth, his father, David Poe Jr., abandoned both his career and his family due to money issues. His mother Eliza, who was an actor, died the next year from tuberculosis. 3 days after her death, David passed away too. Edgar was then taken in by John Allan, a rich merchant who gave him the title of “Edgar Allan Poe.”

2. His career as a poet was going nowhere, so he joined the army.

At 18, Edgar was still not able to support himself financially after working small jobs as a clerk and a newspaper writer. He self-published a book, Tamerlane and Other Poems, but sadly, that received no attention. To make ends meet, he enlisted in the military the same year, which proved to be successful. His salary doubled and he attained the highest rank an officer could achieve.

3. He severed the relationship with his guardian and got kicked out.

According to a letter John Allan wrote to Edgar’s brother, Edgar had “not a spark of affection” for the foster family and “not a particle of gratitude for care and kindness toward him.” He once paid a sergeant and asked him to get the money from his guardian who “was not very sober.” This incident severed their relationship and John Allan gave up on reconciling. Even on his death bed, John refused to meet Edgar and “threatened to strike him if he came within his reach.”

4. When he was 27, he married his 13-year-old cousin.

Edgar then moved in with his aunt, Maria Clemm, in Baltimore. His literary career became somewhat stable and he published a few stories and worked with an editor. In 1836, he publicly announced his marriage to his first cousin, Virginia Clemm, who was just 13 at the time. Just like Edgar’s mother, Virginia died due to tuberculosis at the young age of 24.

5. For his extremely popular poem, “The Raven,” he was paid just $9.

The Raven,” which is still one of Edgar’s most popular poems, earned him fame back in 1845. He finally became known in the field but surprisingly, he was paid only $9 for it. Over 1,500 copies of the poem were sold, earning $120 for the writer in royalties but he practically got nothing as his debt to publishers was already $135.

6. In the last year of his life, he proposed to 2 women.

Edgar Allan Poe found love again with Sarah Helen, who was a widowed poet herself. They would write each other poems and discuss getting engaged. She agreed to the marriage and he vowed to never drink again. Only 2 days after he broke his vow and Sarah’s mother found out, he was also chasing Sarah Elmira Royster, his teenage love, which ended his relationship.

7. His death still remains a mystery.

2 weeks after confessing his love to Sarah Royster, Edgar Allan Poe died mysteriously. He was found “in great distress.” The exact cause of his death has not been determined and it is said it could have been from suicide, murder, cholera, hypoglycemia, rabies, syphilis, or influenza. According to Sarah, Edgar was visibly sick and sad when they last met. Only 7 people attended his funeral and it was only 3 minutes long.

8. His grave was left unmarked for years.

He was initially buried in a cheap coffin without a headstone. Later, an unidentified person marked his grave and visited it for 7 decades, leaving 3 roses and a note each time. The person was never photographed but onlookers described the person as “a shadowy figure, dressed in black with a wide-brimmed hat.”

Are you a fan of Edgar Allan Poe’s work? Which is your all-time favorite poem/book?