5 Strange Facts About Edgar Allan Poe

Updated: Feb 19

Whether you enjoy reading his work or only know him by reputation, there's no doubt that Edgar Allan Poe is a unique and mysterious character. Born January 19th, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts, Poe went on to have a major impact on the literary world. Today, on his 211th birthday, let's pay homage to Edgar Allan Poe with some fascinating facts!


1. He was originally just Edgar Poe

There aren't any records to indicate whether or not Poe was given a middle name when he was born, but we do know that up until the age of three he was known simply as Edgar Poe. Both his parents died when Poe was very young and he was adopted by a couple named John and Frances Allan. They added Allan as his middle name, and Edgar Allan Poe was born!



2. He was more than a horror writer

While Poe may perhaps be most well-known for his tales of the macabre, he left his mark on the literary world in multiple other ways as well. Not only was Edgar Allan Poe credited as one of the first writers to pen short stories, but he invented the modern detective story, and helped innovate the science fiction genre too!



3. He was named after a Shakespeare character

Artistic blood seemed to run in Edgar Allan Poe's family; both his parents were actors, and his brother and sister went on to become a poet and a penmanship teacher, respectively. The year he was born, his parents were performing in Shakespeare's King Lear, which has led to speculation that Poe got his name from a character in the play: the Earl of Gloucester's son, Edgar.



4. He was impoverished for most his adult life

Although John Allan, Poe's adoptive father, was a very wealthy Virginia businessman, Edgar was haunted by money problems for most of his adult life. This could be in part because Poe refused to follow in his father's footsteps in business and chose instead to become a full time writer. This decision created quite a bit of tension between the two of them, but also pushed Poe to become an incredibly prolific writer.



5. No one knows how he actually died

About a week before Poe was supposed to leave on a trip to Philadelphia for an editing job, his fiancée commented that he didn't look well. A doctor told Poe not to travel, but he did anyway and was found days later, unconscious, in a tavern. Poe passed away four days later, but the cause is still unknown. Some theories include: alcohol poisoning, a brain tumor, and murder. In a manner fitting to the master of the macabre, his death has always remained his greatest mystery.



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