The Short Literary Life of Edgar Allan Poe
Artist Griffith “Griff” Robert Littlehale’s portfolio includes designs for business and greeting cards and a logo. In addition to graphic design, Griffith Littlehale enjoys American literature, including the works of Edgar Allan Poe, whose macabre poems and stories brought him fame in the 19th century.
Poe’s parents died three years after his birth in 1809. John Allan, a successful tobacco planter from Virginia, took the child in. He wanted the child to follow in his footsteps, but young Edgar dreamed instead of literary life. He attended the University of Virginia but had to return home for lack of funds. He next strove for military glory but was soon expelled from West Point for insufficient attention to duty.
Poe then moved to Baltimore to live with relatives. He began writing short stories, one of which won a literary contest. More stories appeared and he was hired as an editor for the Southern Literary Messenger. His exciting and terrifying tales boosted circulation and Poe was given additional duties as a book reviewer. He gained notoriety for not only criticizing books but castigating their authors.
Poe married well but he and his wife Virginia still needed money. His famous poem, The Raven, was published to wide acclaim in 1843. Poe leveraged his new fame to go on the lecture circuit and get more pay for his works. This positive turn of events was cut short by his wife’s death in 1847 of tuberculosis.
Although he became engaged to an earlier love whose husband had died, the alcoholism that had plagued him earlier flared up in 1849. He dropped out of sight for five days, finally being found in a bedroom of a tavern. He succumbed to an unknown malady, an event known to his family only by newspaper accounts.
After Poe died, a literary rival published a biography that painted him as a drunk and a philanderer. Its author intended to ruin Poe’s reputation, but instead, the book drove his sales higher than ever before.