Edgar Poe was born on January 19, 1809, the son of traveling entertainers Eliza and David Poe. When Edgar was a baby, David abandoned the family, leaving Eliza to care for three young children. In a devastating twist, Eliza contracted tuberculosis and spent the last months of his life in Richmond. he died on December 8, 1811 at the age of 24, leaving behind his three children. two-year-old edgar was fostered by richmond couple john and frances allan. Edgar was never officially adopted, a cause and result of the constant tensions between him and his adoptive father. he did not take his last name, but instead became edgar allan poe. When he was a teenager, Poe enjoyed the life of the upper-class elite.
in 1824, a young edgar allan poe was part of a junior honor escort escorting revolutionary war general marquis de lafayette through richmond, virginia. Lafayette and the honor guard stopped at the old Richmond brownstone to visit the Ege family, who had helped in the American Revolution. Poe stood guard on the front steps of the house. 98 years later, the old stone house became the poe museum.
at the age of 17, edgar traveled to charlottesville to attend the university of virginia (grape). He left behind a fiancée, Elmira Royster, who promised to wait until after graduation to marry. Edgar almost immediately got into trouble at Uva. although he was a gifted student, he had made it to college with only $110 for tuition. Grape’s tuition was three times that, so he decided to gamble to raise the rest of the funds. instead, edgar created a debt of $2,000. After only a couple of months in Grava, he returned to Richmond disappointed and continued to feud with his adoptive father. To make matters worse, Elmira had become engaged to someone else. While Edgar was away, Elmira’s father intercepted Edgar’s letters and steered her in the direction of another man who promised to be a successful businessman and respectable citizen, something Edgar could not promise.
poe later moved to boston. He didn’t stay long, but during that time he published his first book of poetry, Tamerlane and Other Poems, under the pen name “A Bostonian.” When Poe was 18 years old, he joined the Army under the name “Edgar Perry.” Poe did exceptionally well in the army, rising to the rank of master sergeant in just two years. he then went to west point, where he once again did well academically, but struggled financially. Poe was tried for gross dereliction of duty. he then he moved to baltimore.
In Baltimore, Poe lived with various relatives, including his aunt Maria Clemm and her daughter, Virginia. poe lived in baltimore for four years, during which time he transitioned from writing poetry to writing short stories. One publication that took a particular interest in him was the Richmond, Virginia-based Southern Literary Courier. Poe published “Metzengerstein,” which is considered his first horror story, and “Berenice,” which was so graphic and terrifying that the magazine received multiple complaints from readers. Poe was offered a job on the staff of the Messenger by publisher Thomas White. Poe agreed and returned to Richmond.