The Life of Edgar Allan Poe Biocast transcript

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“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”

-Edgar Allan Poe.

That quote is one of his most popular. Everything is a dream. There’s something about that line that so many people can identify with. It’s powerful. But for someone who brought such great stories, culture, and thought to this world, his life wasn’t so much a dream as it was a nightmare. One that never ended. A nightmare that was filled with solitude, desperation, loneliness. His only true companion was alcohol. Most of his writing reflects that very nightmare.

“In visions of the dark night

I have dreamed of joy departed-

But a waking dream of life and light

Hath left me broken-hearted.”

What made him capable of writing such dark stories and poetry? It was his firsthand experience with suffering. When you become a writer the number one rule is to write what you know. You know what you know, and you have to stick with that. And Poe’s stories are the perfect embodiment of that. The nightmare. Stories of dark impulses, hatred, and every other negative emotion you can imagine. He knew it, because he lived it. The life of Edgar Allan Poe.

The Beginning

Edgar Allan Poe was actually born Edgar Poe on January 19, 1809. The Allan came a bit later. His parents were actress Elizabeth Poe and actor David Poe Jr. Edgar’s family background was kinda tragic. He came from a long line of Irish alcoholics, and had quite a few family members that were, what people of the time called, “eccentric.” That’s 1800s speak for mentally ill.

So, just about everyone in his family was crazy or a drunk, or in some cases, both. You can imagine how being born to a family with those kinds of tendencies can leave you a little more than likely to develop mental illness or alcoholism yourself. There’s quite a bit of research to suggest that Poe had brain damage and his “genius” was actually just over-compensation. Certainly could be the case.

The kind of home Poe would have grown up in (Though, not the exact one).

Edgar’s grandfather actually gained the family some status in the newly-formed United States. He personally financed & helped during the Revolutionary war, even became friends with Marquis de Lafayette. His son, David Poe Jr. wouldn’t follow in his footsteps though, and became an actor. And Poe’s father didn’t just disregard his father’s wishes to become an actor, but he wasn’t a very good actor either.

One critic, who saw both of Poe’s parents perform once said,

“the lady was young and pretty, and evinced talent both as a singer and actress; the gentleman was literally nothing.”

David would stick true to the problems of the family and develop severe alcoholism, mental illness, and even got to a point where he abandoned his wife and 3 children. Never to be seen again. His mother continued as an actress, depending on various co-workers and audience members to watch her kids. Only a few months passed before she became very ill.

She worked less and less frequently until she physically couldn’t. She passed away a year after her husband left, almost to the day. Her 3 kids would be sent to live with other local families who agreed to adoption.

Edgar went to live with the Allans, a wealthy merchant family out of Richmond Virginia. The reason they were so willing to adopt someone else’s kid was that they likely couldn’t produce children of their own, I mean, why else would you adopt? And with John Allan’s thriving business, they had plenty of resources to care for a child.

John Allan

I think there are a lot of rumors and falsehoods about the dynamic of the family. I see a lot of stuff about Mr. Allan beating and abusing the young Poe, but I really don’t think that’s the case. A more accurate way to view the relationship is the Allans desperately needed an heir. They didn’t want their fortune to be completely lost when they passed. That was John’s primary motivation for adopting Poe. It was more of a self-interest kinda thing whereas Mrs. Allan really did love Poe, and treated him as if he were her own son.

Throughout his childhood, he was always closer to Mrs. Allan than Mr. John Allan’s primary interest was money. Right, you don’t get rich by not caring about money. This desire for wealth brought the entire family over to London for a few years. This was during a time when travel was difficult, it took about 6 weeks to cross that Atlantic ocean, there were also other dangers at sea like pirates. Those were a real thing at this time and there was a pretty solid chance you died on that ocean one way or another. But the Allan family got there nonetheless.

Growing Up in London

As Poe grew up, Mr. Allan was more of a permissive father-figure. Between that and a loving mother-figure, you have some real potential for chaos. Keep in mind, Poe is their only child. He got all the stuff he ever wanted, needed, or asked for.

It’s nice to not want for anything as a kid, but if you’re just handed everything, we all know that tends to cause problems. That’s the way Poe grew up. With more stuff than he needed and without any discipline.

While he grew up in London, he received an education from Reverend Dr. Bransby. This guy really liked Poe and he’s most of the reason Poe was as brilliant as he was later in life. Dr. Bransby described Poe as,

“a quick and clever boy” who “would have been a very good boy if he had not been spoilt by his parents,” who “allowed him an extravagant amount of pocket-money, which enabled him to get into all manner of mischief.”

Spoiled kid. Indulgent parents. That’s a pretty accurate picture if you ask me.

Poe later wrote about never receiving the amount of affection he needed as a kid. Of course, he could’ve just been an exceptionally needy and emotional kid. Poe Biographer, John H. Ingram, even said,

“Throughout life a morbid sensitiveness to affection was one of Poe’s most distinguishing traits.”

So, maybe the Allans gave him enough affection for a normal kid, but it was that Poe wasn’t a normal kid, he needed a lot. Could certainly be the case.

Mr. Allan would also have these fancy dinners with other upper-class types and he would have Poe entertain everyone by reciting long passages of poetry. Poe was a natural introvert, recluse, and probably very emotionally sensitive, so you can imagine how stressful this would have been as a young kid in his position. It’s during this time he also developed a taste for alcohol. The Allans were just kinda whatever about it. Little did they know it would be this very substance that would bring about Poe’s own undoing later in life. I think that gives you a good idea of how his early childhood went.

College & Military

The Allan family made their way back to Virginia in 1820. It would be a few years before anything interesting happened. Around late 1823 to be precise. Poe fell in love for the first time at a very young age. 15. And it really shows you how interesting his life was. So, he had this friend, Rob Stanard. You know how most 15-year-olds today joke to each other about “dating your mom” and things of that nature? Well, Poe actually did it. One day, little Robbie took Poe back to his house and Poe fell in love with his mom, and his mom, with him.

Rob wrote about the experience,

“There seems to have been born between them instantly a bond of sympathy, which produced a deep effect upon the boy. She spoke some gracious words of welcome, she was beautiful, and he was in a mood in which a woman’s sympathy must have been needed.”

There was something about the older woman, motherly essence of this lady that brought the young writer some joy that he was incapable of feeling any other way.

Poe loved her. Years later, he would reflect on the lovely Mrs. Stanard writing,

“the truest, tenderest of this world’s most womanly souls, and an angel to my forlorn and darkened nature.”

And for the second time in his life, Poe would face the tragedy of the death of someone who he loved dearly. Mrs. Stanard become mentally ill, and passed away in 1824. Gone from his life. Forever.

Across the street was a well-to-do family who had a daughter that peeked Poe’s interests. Sarah Royster. They became very close over the years and began a relationship in 1825.

Sarah later wrote about the experience with Poe,

“He [Edgar] was a beautiful boy — Not very talkative. When he did talk though he was pleasant but his general manner was sad — He was devoted to the first Mrs Allan and she to him. We lived opposite to Poe on 5th. I made his acquaintance so. Our acquaintance was kept up until he left to go to the University.”

Childhood sweethearts. Adolescent love. And still as a teenager, he’s still fond of this motherly affection he gets from Mrs. Allan. There’s something about the tender love of a woman that brought some comfort to his otherwise depressive attitude.

But by this point, he was much more fond of Sarah. It’s even possible Poe proposed to her, but that’s not really confirmed, but, knowing Poe, definitely could have happened. The problem was that Poe was enrolled at the University of Virginia in 1826, so he and Sarah were stuck writing letters to each other, which would have been fine, but Sarah’s dad really didn’t care for him. He disliked Poe so much, that he intercepted Poe’s letters to Sarah and destroyed them.

Sarah just figured he had lost interest. The relationship was over, for now at least. Sarah’s family pressured her to marry a another young man from a wealthier family, you know, as you do. And that was that. Poe’s time at the University of Virginia was… interesting. He was there for less than a year, but wow did he manage to have a fun time.

It’s important to understand the kind of environment the University of Virginia offered at this particular point in time. It was young. Very young. So much so, that Thomas Jefferson had only started the university 1 year prior to Poe attending. It was founded on very similar principles to the newly formed United States. Freedom, liberty, individuality. Well, that may be perfectly fine ideals to found a nation on, maybe not such good ideals to found a college on. Let’s just be honest. We all know how college students behave. And as you would expect, there was a lot of drinking, partying, and gambling. There would even be these chaotic riots on campus where it was almost impossible to function. A professor trying to calm things down even got shot and killed one time.

This doesn’t seem to have really bothered Poe though. He fit well into the chaos. This is where he would embrace one of his worst vices, gambling. He didn’t just do it a lot, he went nuts. In just a single semester, he somehow managed to build up $2,500 in debt. To put this into perspective, that is around $68,000 today. So, imagine, you send your kid of to college and toward the end of their semester they come home and tell you they’ve built up $68,000 in gambling debt. What the heck.

That’s more than most people today make in a year! And he had no money to pay that debt. So, what do you think he did? Went right back to rich his rich-adopted father asking for money. If you want to see a wealthy person upset, you tell them they have to pay an insanely high amount of money for careless, stupid mistakes they didn’t make.

Poe & Mr. Allan already had a rocky relationship, but this may very well have been the nail in the coffin. By the end of that 2nd semester, Poe was done with college. Mr. Allan wasn’t paying that money, and there was no way he’d be able to pay for everything on his own.

But he was in a real tight spot. He’s not able to stay at university, and going back to Richmond wasn’t really an option. The girl he’d been in love with just married someone else, his adopted father kinda hated him for the gambling debt. Poe was out of options. He decided the best thing he could do was just go out, and get a job and be on his own. And that’s exactly what he did.

He traveled to Boston in 1827 and started working various writer jobs. Clerk. Newspaper writer. Jobs that were decent for him, but weren’t quite enough to fulfill his artistic or financial demands. He may have come from the silver spoon, but that’s gone now. He’s either going to sink or swim completely on his own merit.

And, like most spoiled rich kids who had everything handed to them, swimming didn’t come easy for him. He sunk. And it only took about a month for that to happen. It must have been somewhat shocking. Going from this upper-class life to not being able to support yourself even with a “lesser” job must have been quite a blow to his ego. Kind of a reality check, if you will.

His options were limited. The only opportunity he saw at this point was serving in the military, where he signed up under false pretenses, lying about his age. He first served at Fort Independence in Boston Harbor for five dollars a month. It was an honest living. But, it wasn’t enough for him. One of Poe’s contemporaries wrote,

“he was a devourer of books, but his great fault was his neglect of and apparent contempt for military duties. His wayward and capricious temper made him at times utterly oblivious or indifferent to the ordinary routine.”

He couldn’t handle military life. He thought he was above it. He was too good for this. His destiny, in his mind, was to become a great writer, and the military was only getting in the way of that.

The sad part is that he was doing great. He even got a promotion where his entire paycheck doubled. He was capable of succeeding here, but when he was about 2 years into it, he made up his mind. He was getting out.

Fort Independence (Massachusetts) where Poe was stationed.

He talked to his commanding officer, and let him know he’d lied about his age and joined under false pretenses. His commanding officer wouldn’t have it. Lieutenant Howard told Poe the only way he would allow him to resign was if he got a letter from his adopted father, Mr. Allan, allowing him to resign. This put Poe in a pickle. He was still on bad terms with Mr. Allan, but that didn’t stop him from shamelessly writing to him, addressing him as father, and signing these letters as “your affectionate son.”

Mr. Allan didn’t respond. He wanted Poe to learn his life lessons the hard way. He was done supporting the spoiled rich kid lifestyle. One of the later letters Poe wrote to Mr. Allan partially read,

“The period of an Enlistment is five years — the prime of my life would be wasted — I shall be driven to more decided measures, if you refuse to assist me.”

He got desperate enough to make threats. Poe even started writing to Mrs. Allan, trying to convince her to talk Mr. Allan into letting him out of his enlistment. And this is where things take a turn for the worse, from Poe’s perspective, at least. Mrs. Francis Allan dies. She’s gone. And Mr. Allan remarries really quickly after. This was the final nail in the coffin for any hopes of getting that inheritance money. Mr. Allan honestly kinda hated Poe. Mrs. Allan was the only hope for that and any future relationship with Mr. Allan going forward, and now she is gone.

I want to focus a little on the effect this had on Poe. His mom died when he was a small child. His first love, Mrs. Stanard died when he was just 15. And now, his foster mother is dead as well. Poe is just 23 years old at this point. And he has already experienced all that suffering. This could explain why so much of his work revolved around beautiful women and death.

There was a real pattern of women who loved him dying. Imagine getting so emotionally attached, and dependent on the same motherly figure again and again and again, only to have the cold claw of death snatch her away every time you almost felt joy. No wonder he wrote what he wrote. How could anyone think about anything else when that’s a recurrent theme in your life.

After Mrs. Allan was buried, Mr. Allan became a bit more sympathetic. He decided to help Poe out. He gave him the letter he needed to resign, but with the promise of Poe attending West Point Academy. Again, having this rich, upper-class dad really had its benefits. He gets this second chance of a lifetime. He’s admitted as a cadet in 1830. A new beginning. And what does he do with this new beginning? He does exactly what he’d done before. He was court-martialed for gross neglect of duty and disobedience in following orders.

Maybe there was just something about taking orders and living the military life that was especially painful for him. He just couldn’t take it. And it is understandable to a degree. You take a sensitive artist by nature, and drop him into that kind of environment, it almost becomes one of those, “what did you expect?” kinda moments.

I remember as a kid, being put into those required art classes and just going absolutely insane. It’s all because I’m not creative. The teacher would tell me to just make anything I wanted, and that meant literally nothing to me. I dreaded that more than I did math and science classes. Those came a lot easier than the creative stuff ever did. And I’d bet you can probably relate to that too. Being put into an environment where you know you cannot thrive. That’s how it was for Poe in these highly disciplined, chain of command kinda settings. It just wasn’t him.

It’s too bad to, because this is what finished his relationship with Mr. Allan. He was done this time. Even went on to officially disown Poe, and cut him off from all the inheritance. Something that Poe grew up expecting to have. Right, you grow up in a wealthy family, when your parents die, you get what they had left. Not this time. Mr. Allan would rather that wealth be completely wasted than give it to his adopted son. And these kinds of situations are always difficult because you want to find out who the bad guy is, right? Is Poe just this lazy little ingrate who can’t function in society because he’s too self-centered, or was Mr. Allan forcing Poe into an environment where there was no realistic chance he would thrive and succeed, or did Mr. Allan just not put any effort into teaching Poe to discipline himself. Tough to tell. I’ll let you make up your own mind about that one.

To Write or not to Write

Poe left for NYC in early 1831, determined to make a writer out of himself. He released his 3rd volume of poems, brilliantly named, Poems. It was actually financed by the cadets he met at West Point, who each contributed 75 cents to the cause, raising a total of $170. Just like all his other released up to this point, he received lukewarm success. Later that same year, he went to live with his family in Baltimore.

He spends these next few years trying to become a writer by any means necessary, even won a literary award in 1833, with his story, “MS in a Bottle.” He had his story published and everything. Of course, it wasn’t enough to kick-start a career, but he still has this family to support him now, and they kinda act as a shield against destitute poverty. Now, it’s important to understand that this is a family of people who can’t take care of themselves. The only thing that keeps this family afloat is this strength in numbers. Everyone supports each other. Not a single one of them really has their life together here. Not to mention, they’re still raising a child, Poe’s cousin, Virginia Clemm. She’s about 8 when he moves there, and it’s a little creepy considering he would eventually marry this kid. He at least gives it a few years before he does that though.

In the meantime, he’s hearing about the ill health of Mr. Allan who he is trying desperately to get on good terms with. Poe knows that if Mr. Allan dies and all his wealth goes to his new wife, Poe is going to be poor and struggle forever. As much as he didn’t get along with Mr. Allan, he did not want despair and destitution to characterize the rest of his life. But Mr. Allan was not having any of it. Poe was dead to him. That didn’t stop Poe from trying though. He even went to visit Mr. Allan toward the end.

Poe knocked on the door, only to be greeted by Mr. Allan’s new wife. She informed him that Mr. Allan was in ill health, and could not be seen except by nurses or doctors. Poe pushed her aside and rushed toward Mr. Allan’s room. She writes about what happens next,

“As soon as he entered the chamber, Mr. Allan raised his cane, and threatening to strike him if he came within his reach, ordered him out; upon which Poe withdrew; and that was the last time they ever met.”

Wow. Just think about that for a moment. Imagine you went to visit your dying father, and when you got there, he threatened to attack you. And that was the last time you ever saw him. What kind of impact would that have on you? How would that make you feel? It must have been really emotional. Traumatic, even. I know, they didn’t exactly see eye to eye, but this was the man who raised Poe. Treated him like a son. And this is the last interaction they ever have.

Poe finds his way back to Baltimore, the only place in the world where he is accepted. This is around the time he starts getting close to his cousin, Virginia Clemm. Considering how many significant women in his life have died, it could have been a pragmatic move to get involved with someone who was so much younger than he was. It would be hard to blame him. That doesn’t really change that fact that

A: this is his cousin and

B: he’s about 15 years older than this girl. That’s a big age difference.

Virginia Clemm.

It’s also important to try to get an understanding of Poe’s relationship with women. By this point, it was common practice to write poetry for or about the women he was involved with. There was something about having this affection that made Poe’s world light up. It meant everything to him. But there’s a darker psychological aspect to Poe’s obsession with women. Coming from the Psychoanalytic study of Poe, to him,

“These women are never human; they are not warm flesh and blood, loving, hating or coming late to appointments-they are simply beautiful lay figures around which to hang wreaths of poetical sentiments… He wished to be loved rather than to love.”

It wasn’t so much being in love that got him going, it was simply getting attention. And to be fair, maybe this is the natural result of having so much death and rejection fill his life. Way more than your ordinary person, even during this time.

How would you act if you had your mom die in your early childhood, one of your first loves die randomly, another one marry someone else behind your back, your foster mother pass away before you’ve even really become an adult and then all the countless other heartbreaks I just don’t have time to cover. There are a lot. And just think about it. How would you be if all that had happened to you. How would it change you? Maybe there are some people out there that would have been perfectly fine, but, as we’ve kinda established with Poe, he was certainly on the sensitive side, and he just couldn’t emotionally cope with the issues of his life.

With the death of his brother just a few years prior, who, by the way, died of alcoholism, this emotional catastrophe with Mr. Allan, and now the pressure of being the only man in a household of women, this became an intense period. And just like countless blood-relatives, he coped with day to day reality with alcohol. And it did not take a lot of it either. A fellow editor who knew Poe later in life even wrote about his relationship with alcohol,

“with a single glass of wine, his whole nature was reversed, the demon became uppermost, and, though none of the usual signs of intoxication were visible, his will was palpably insane.”

Palpably insane. Life was sad. For him, it was just easier to not feel anything rather than confront the tragic and pathetic circumstances of his life. And I don’t mean that in an overtly critical way either, he still lives as one of the greatest and most significant writers in history, and a personal favorite of mine, but his life story really is just sad. There aren’t a whole lot of other ways you can spin it. But maybe this sadness in his life is what made his writing great to begin with. It goes back to the idea of “writing what you know.” Can you write something like the Tell Tale Heart or The Black Cat if you don’t have a particularly morbid mind?…

Gustave Dore’s illustration of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.”

Anywho, this is where Poe really starts coming into his own as a writer. His own personal greatness, and unlike most writers who are overly opinionated about everything, Poe pays literally no attention to the big issues of the day. There’s the slavery dilemma, the native american question, and a million other things to be concerned over. Poe doesn’t care. He lives in his own little world where nothing but literature lives. The psychoanalysis puts it eloquently,

“Poe passed serenely through the troublesome years of anti-slavery agitation apparently un- touched by the passions of those around him, worshipping only the Beauty whose expression is Art, interested only in the inner conflict within his own soul. In his themes he is neither American, nor Virginian, nor of the nineteenth century. For him the world was depreciated till it scarcely existed; finding reality not to his satisfaction he fled to a world of his own creating.”

In 1835, Poe makes history with one of the first science fiction stories to ever be published. The story was entitled The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall. Interesting enough. It’s basically about a Dutch guy going to the moon in a balloon. But there’s a kicker, Poe wrote this story as a hoax. He wanted to convince people that Hans Pfaall was a real person and actually went to the moon.

Now, of course, us in the 21st century can see right through a story like that. We know the moon doesn’t exist. But this people that read this story didn’t necessarily know that you can travel to space in a hot air balloon. In the summer of that year, he even got his first big writing job, the assistant editor of the Southern Literary Messenger. But, he got fired and you’ll never guess why. Poe’s boss wrote to him saying, in part,

“it must be especially understood by us that all engagements on my part would be dissolved, the moment you get drunk… No man is safe who drinks before breakfast! No man can do so, and attend to business properly.”

Drinking on the job. Yikes.

Shockingly enough though, Poe somehow got back into that job. He was that good. He actually worked there for about 2 years, writing and publishing a whole bunch of his own work in the meantime. It’s also around this time that he married that much younger cousin of his, who was 13, and he was 26.

His career was going somewhat well. He did a good job of building up this reputation, as a good critic and a good writer. He could never really hold down a job though. And not necessarily because he was a drunk or anything like that, but he would get bored at one place. Maybe a year or two would pass by before he just needed a new work environment, and that’s kinda how things went for a good while, working at various magazines.

Late Adulthood

He even tried starting his own magazine. It was supposed to be called the Stylus and Poe thought that the literature in the United States could really use some improving and he was gonna bring this new culture, this great literature, to the people. Unfortunately, things never really panned out but that was kind of his goal.

Now somewhere throughout this period he actually had the idea to work for the government. He wanted to work in the custom house in Philadelphia, even went as far to lie about being a member of the Whig party. Again, he didn’t really care about politics and saw an opportunity to get a decent job here working for the government. Even back then it was a cushy gig so he’s like “yeah definitely I’m part of this Whig party” … but he didn’t show up for the meeting because he was probably drunk.

Earlier I discussed how part of the reason that Poe probably went after Virginia Clem was that she was so much younger than him. There was a good chance that she was outlived him. That’s how it was supposed to happen. It didn’t stop her from getting tuberculosis though. She never really recovered from that and seeing all of this unfold… I just I can’t even imagine after losing so many women. Between these motherly figures, lovers, the rejection, to death after all that you finally have a wife she’s supposed to live longer than you and now she’s sick. Poe starts drinking even more and his worst fear is losing her. He finally has someone to give him this affection that he so desperately needs and she’s gonna be gone soon. Now despite still drinking a lot that didn’t stop him from having a fairly successful career he still wrote and published and edited and all kinds of things like that.

His first big success was publishing The Raven. This was a massive success for him. He was a household name. This story literally made him like kind of pseudo-celebrity at the time or at least as famous as you could be back in those days.

And how much did he get paid for this story that everyone fell in love with? $9. Now granted that’s a decent sum of money today but still it’s like nine dollars. Imagine you release a blockbuster and it’s this great masterpiece. Everyone in the country loves it and you get paid like $50 bucks. Wow that sucks.

I want to briefly discuss an important lesson from Poe’s life. Up until this point though Poe had bad relationships with almost everyone around him, particularly in the writing world he frequently burned bridges, he was accusing other people of plagiarism. He gave zero thought to being being cordial. And then on top of that he was very much self-interested and I think that’s part of the reason he didn’t become successful in his lifetime.

His writing was great. I mean he became famous even after he died. That takes such good writer and that takes some true art for that to happen. But he just couldn’t find a way to get along with people. And that’s part of business. If you want to be an actor you can’t just be rude to all the people that might potentially hire you. You can’t burn all your bridges because those bridges are how you go from some drunk nobody writing stories for 10 people to becoming a well-respected writer in your lifetime.

His writing was great. I mean he became famous even after he died. That takes such good writer and that takes some true art for that to happen. But he just couldn’t find a way to get along with people. And that’s part of business. If you want to be an actor you can’t just be rude to all the people that might potentially hire you. You can’t burn all your bridges because those bridges are how you go from some drunk nobody writing stories for 10 people to becoming a well-respected writer in your lifetime.

Things continued fairly well… for a couple years at least. when Virginia dies, Poe is devastated he doesn’t know what to do. He goes insane and can you blame him? He outlived this this younger girl. She was supposed to be the one. She was years younger than him and she still died just like all the other women in his life. He actually went insane after this. He even tried marrying Sarah Helen Whitman, another pretty popular writer during this time.

Sarah Helen Whitman.

She’s another one of these classics but of course things didn’t really work out because he was an excessive drinker and he went crazy enough that Sarah took notice. So, of course, I don’t think she really wanted anything to do with that. Maybe she liked his stories but it’s kind of like “all right you’re a crazy drunk. I can’t marry you, but I’ll still read your stories.”

He does get a little piece of happiness because he ends up tracking down that that childhood sweetheart. Sarah Royster. Luckily enough, it turned out she was a widow, and he marries her. Things worked out. He did get a little piece of happiness. It’s too bad that it had to happen all these years later. Maybe she was supposed to be the one and her father getting involved in her love life ruined what would have otherwise been a happy life. Maybe that was the downfall.

How much more stable would Poe’s life have been had he married Sarah Royster when he wanted to? His life and relationships would have likely gone down a radically different route. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a lot of time to enjoy this little piece of happiness because he dies just a few years later.

In 1849 to be exact. And there was a really interesting account because this one guy just finds him outside of a polling station semi-conscious. Poe was very clearly messed up and just on the streets just kind of like leaning up against a building really very clearly out of it.

It must have been a weird situation and a lot of people theorize that he was drunk or he went on some crazy binge. It’s really hard to know but one of the biggest and most prominent theories which I personally think could certainly be the case is the couping theory. Now you probably don’t know what couping is.

Couping basically happened when there was an election going on and what people would do is they would just find some random stranger, kind of beat him up and then give him drugs and then they’d take him around and make him vote for it the political candidate that they wanted. They’d normally dress you up in a few different outfits and get a few more votes out of you too.

After likely doing this to Poe, they just left him there. They got their votes and they were done. Just a couple days later he passes away. His last words were quote,

“Lord, help my poor soul.”

It’s actually really sad really. If you think about him and then it actually gets a little bit worse because of the obituary that was published by one of his literary rivals. Now this other guy, Griswold, was a writer in his own right but he actually somehow got the ability to publish the obituary about Edgar Allan Poe. But what this writes is just mean.

Found in the New York Tribune a few days later, written by Griswold,

“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.”

I think it’s kind of poetic justice that Poe, even with this basically terrible obituary published about him, is the one that gets famous and not Griswold and here’s another interesting thing to note Griswold somehow got the copyright to all of Poe’s work. So, the fact that Poe became a household name, literary legend, and became one of these great people of history… it really was against all odds because Griswold he was gonna do everything in his power to stop Poe’s success.

And even writing this cruel obituary and getting the copyright to Poe’s stories, and stopping him in every way he could, the legacy of Poe lives on.

I think there’s a lot of lessons to be learned from Poe’s life. Do what you can to not burn the bridges of those around you. Understand that no job is beneath you. If working in the military is the only thing you can do, do it. Discipline yourself. don’t give in to your vices and become a slave to them.

I’m sure there are many more, but that’s gonna be the life of Edgar Allan Poe.

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