edgar-poe-pwxlgOnce upon a midnight dreary in Boston Massachusetts, actress Elizabeth Poe went into labor, and on January 19, 1809, America’s favorite Dark Traveler was born, and so we celebrate


When Edgar Poe was a year old, his actor father David Poe, Jr. abandoned his wife and 3 children, and their mother died a year or so later, so Edgar was informally adopted and raised by the Allan family, hence his middle name.

He attended the University of Virginia before gambling debts forced him to join the army, where he became an artillery sergeant, and later enrolled in West Point, also a brief sojourn after running afoul of the disciplinary committee. He was popular with the cadets, though, who chipped in 75¢ apiece to publish a book of poems by their former comrade, including “Tamerlane” and “The City In The Sea.”

He lived sort of a ramshackle life, bouncing from job to job in Philadelphia and Baltimore, alternately successful and broke, sober and drunk, writing poetry and prose all the while.

At 27, he pulled a Jerry Lee Lewis and married his 13 year old second cousin, Virginia Clemm, who died of tuberculosis at only 24, and was the subject of some of most famous poems. After her death he settled in Bronx NY, and pretty much stayed drunk, but still prolific, befriending the Jesuits at nearby St. John’s College where Virginia had died.

Poe himself died under mysterious circumstances at age 40 in Baltimore after having been found wandering the streets in an incoherent state, wearing another man’s clothes. He was never able to explain this turn of events before dying a very Poe-like death.

•Suggested Activities: Preoccupation with the bizarre and disturbing.

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