An introduction for children on the perils of the writing life.
On a bitterly cold January 19 in 1809, little Edgar Poe was born into a new and troubling world. His parents were poor stage actors. When Edgar turned one year old, his father abandoned him and his mother. A year later, his ailing mother passed away.
Poor Eddie was an orphan!
John and Frances Allan, a wealthy couple from Virginia, took little Edgar in and fostered him. They did not adopt him. He was now Edgar Allan Poe. He traveled to Scotland and England with them and they placed him in boarding schools.
Poor Eddie was lonely!
The family returned to Virginia, and Mr. Allan always complained about money and Edgar’s education expenses. Even when Edgar was in the University of Virginia, he had to drop out because he did not have enough money.
Poor Eddie had trouble with education!
Edgar wanted to be a poet. Sadly, he also liked to gamble. Even sadder, he lost most of the time. Edgar’s foster father was furious! Edgar left home and joined the U.S. Army in 1827. Happily, he published his first book of poetry, Tamerlane and Other Poems. Unfortunately, two years later his foster mother died.
Poor Eddie lost another mother!
In 1829, Edgar published another book of poetry before he joined the military academy at West Point. But, oh well, Edgar misbehaved at the academy and had to leave. So, he went to live with his aunt and cousin in Baltimore.
Poor Eddie just could not win!
In 1835, Edgar married his very young cousin, Virginia, who was sickly. By 1842 she became very ill and almost died. Three years later he published the “The Raven.” This poem made him famous. And it gave the world the famous “Nevermore” spoken by the raven. But, alas, Edgar only made nine dollars on the story.
Poor Eddie just could not make money!
In 1847, his tubercular young wife passed away. Later, Edgar returned to Virginia to try and marry an old sweetheart, but the girl’s mother would not allow it.
Poor Eddie had trouble with love!
He wrote many poems and stories. Some were quite sad, some quite spooky. Maybe you’ve heard of “The Tell-Tale Heart” or “The Pit and the Pendulum” or “The Cask of Amontillado.” Some poems were about young women who passed away. Some of his other writing was about philosophy and literature.
Poor Eddie at least was a gifted writer!
On October 7 in 1849, Edgar was found on a street in Baltimore very ill and almost unconscious. He was not even wearing his own clothes. He passed away in a hospital four days later. His death is still a mystery. No one knows why he was on the street or exactly what was wrong with him. Some people say he was suffering from a disease; others think it was drugs. Some even think he was murdered.
Edgar once wrote about the Imp of the Perverse. This was the being inside all of us that makes us want to do the actions that will actually harm us. Maybe he was right. Maybe Eddie made his own life more tragic.
Poor Eddie died a mystery. No money, no friends. But his words will live on forever!