At some point he started using the pseudonym Henri Le Rennet. Using the name "Edgar A. Perry", he claimed he was even though he was That same year, he released his first book, a page collection of poetry, Tamerlane and Other Poems , attributed with the byline "by a Bostonian".
Poe was promoted to "artificer", an enlisted tradesman who prepared shells for artillery, and had his monthly pay doubled. He revealed his real name and his circumstances to his commanding officer, Lieutenant Howard. Howard would only allow Poe to be discharged if he reconciled with John Allan and wrote a letter to Allan, who was unsympathetic. Several months passed and pleas to Allan were ignored; Allan may not have written to Poe even to make him aware of his foster mother's illness.
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Frances Allan died on February 28, , and Poe visited the day after her burial. Perhaps softened by his wife's death, John Allan agreed to support Poe's attempt to be discharged in order to receive an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Poe finally was discharged on April 15, , after securing a replacement to finish his enlisted term for him.
Poe traveled to West Point and matriculated as a cadet on July 1, The marriage, and bitter quarrels with Poe over the children born to Allan out of affairs, led to the foster father finally disowning Poe. Poe decided to leave West Point by purposely getting court-martialed. On February 8, , he was tried for gross neglect of duty and disobedience of orders for refusing to attend formations, classes, or church.
Poe tactically pled not guilty to induce dismissal, knowing he would be found guilty. He left for New York in February , and released a third volume of poems, simply titled Poems. They may have been expecting verses similar to the satirical ones Poe had been writing about commanding officers. Corps of Cadets this volume is respectfully dedicated. He returned to Baltimore, to his aunt, brother and cousin, in March His elder brother Henry, who had been in ill health in part due to problems with alcoholism, died on August 1, Publishing career After his brother's death, Poe began more earnest attempts to start his career as a writer.
He chose a difficult time in American publishing to do so.
He was the first well-known American to try to live by writing alone and was hampered by the lack of an international copyright law. Publishers often pirated copies of British works rather than paying for new work by Americans. The industry was also particularly hurt by the Panic of Despite a booming growth in American periodicals around this time period, fueled in part by new technology, many did not last beyond a few issues and publishers often refused to pay their writers or paid them much later than they promised.
Poe, throughout his attempts to live as a writer, had to repeatedly resort to humiliating pleas for money and other assistance.
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After his early attempts at poetry, Poe had turned his attention to prose. He placed a few stories with a Philadelphia publication and began work on his only drama, Politian. Found in a Bottle". The story brought him to the attention of John P. Kennedy, a Baltimorian of considerable means. He helped Poe place some of his stories, and introduced him to Thomas W. White, editor of the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond. Poe became assistant editor of the periodical in August , but was discharged within a few weeks for being caught drunk by his boss.
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Returning to Baltimore, Poe secretly married Virginia, his cousin, on September 22, He was 26 and she was 13, though she is listed on the marriage certificate as being Reinstated by White after promising good behavior, Poe went back to Richmond with Virginia and her mother. He remained at the Messenger until January During this period, Poe claimed that its circulation increased from to 3, He published several poems, book reviews, critiques, and stories in the paper.
On May 16, , he had a second wedding ceremony in Richmond with Virginia Clemm, this time in public. In the summer of , Poe became assistant editor of Burton's Gentleman's Magazine. He published numerous articles, stories, and reviews, enhancing his reputation as a trenchant critic that he had established at the Southern Literary Messenger. Poe left Burton's after about a year and found a position as assistant at Graham's Magazine. In June , Poe published a prospectus announcing his intentions to start his own journal, The Stylus.
Originally, Poe intended to call the journal The Penn , as it would have been based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Around this time, he attempted to secure a position with the Tyler administration, claiming he was a member of the Whig Party. Poe failed to show up for a meeting with Thomas to discuss the appointment in mid-September , claiming to be sick, though Thomas believed he was drunk.
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Though he was promised an appointment, all positions were filled by others. Poe described it as breaking a blood vessel in her throat. She only partially recovered. Poe began to drink more heavily under the stress of Virginia's illness. He left Graham's and attempted to find a new position, for a time angling for a government post. He returned to New York, where he worked briefly at the Evening Mirror before becoming editor of the Broadway Journal and, later, sole owner.
There he alienated himself from other writers by publicly accusing Henry Wadsworth Longfellow of plagiarism, though Longfellow never responded. On January 29, , his poem "The Raven" appeared in the Evening Mirror and became a popular sensation. It was concurrently published in the A Whig Journal under the pseudonym "Quarles". The Broadway Journal failed in Virginia died there on January 30, Biographers and critics often suggest Poe's frequent theme of the "death of a beautiful woman" stems from the repeated loss of women throughout his life, including his wife.
Increasingly unstable after his wife's death, Poe attempted to court the poet Sarah Helen Whitman, who lived in Providence, Rhode Island. Their engagement failed, purportedly because of Poe's drinking and erratic behavior. However, there is also strong evidence that Whitman's mother intervened and did much to derail their relationship. Poe then returned to Richmond and resumed a relationship with his childhood sweetheart, Sarah Elmira Royster.
He was taken to the Washington College Hospital, where he died on Sunday, October 7, , at in the morning. Poe was never coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition, and, oddly, was wearing clothes that were not his own. Poe is said to have repeatedly called out the name "Reynolds" on the night before his death, though it is unclear to whom he was referring.
Some sources say Poe's final words were "Lord help my poor soul. Newspapers at the time reported Poe's death as "congestion of the brain" or "cerebral inflammation", common euphemisms for deaths from disreputable causes such as alcoholism. The actual cause of death remains a mystery; from as early as , cooping was commonly believed to have been the cause, and speculation has included delirium tremens , heart disease, epilepsy, syphilis, meningeal inflammation, cholera and rabies.
It was soon published throughout the country. The piece began, "Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it. Griswold somehow became Poe's literary executor and attempted to destroy his enemy's reputation after his death. Rufus Griswold wrote a biographical article of Poe called "Memoir of the Author", which he included in an volume of the collected works. Griswold depicted Poe as a depraved, drunk, drug-addled madman and included Poe's letters as evidence. Many of his claims were either lies or distorted half-truths.
For example, it is now known that Poe was not a drug addict.
Griswold's book was denounced by those who knew Poe well, but it became a popularly accepted one. This occurred in part because it was the only full biography available and was widely reprinted and in part because readers thrilled at the thought of reading works by an "evil" man. Letters that Griswold presented as proof of this depiction of Poe were later revealed as forgeries. His most recurring themes deal with questions of death, including its physical signs, the effects of decomposition, concerns of premature burial, the reanimation of the dead, and mourning. Many of his works are generally considered part of the dark romanticism genre, a literary reaction to transcendentalism, which Poe strongly disliked.
He referred to followers of the movement as "Frogpondians" after the pond on Boston Common. For comic effect, he used irony and ludicrous extravagance, often in an attempt to liberate the reader from cultural conformity. In fact, "Metzengerstein", the first story that Poe is known to have published, and his first foray into horror, was originally intended as a burlesque satirizing the popular genre. Poe also reinvented science fiction, responding in his writing to emerging technologies such as hot air balloons in "The Balloon-Hoax".
Poe wrote much of his work using themes specifically catered for mass market tastes. To that end, his fiction often included elements of popular pseudosciences such as phrenology and physiognomy. Literary theory Poe's writing reflects his literary theories, which he presented in his criticism and also in essays such as "The Poetic Principle". He disliked didacticism and allegory, though he believed that meaning in literature should be an undercurrent just beneath the surface.
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Works with obvious meanings, he wrote, cease to be art. He believed that quality work should be brief and focus on a specific single effect. To that end, he believed that the writer should carefully calculate every sentiment and idea. In "The Philosophy of Composition", an essay in which Poe describes his method in writing "The Raven", he claims to have strictly followed this method.
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It has been questioned, however, if he really followed this system.