About This Book
Some of his most famous short stories, including "Masque of the Red Death,"
"The Cask of Amontillado," "The Fall of the House of Usher," and Poe's
most famous poem: "The Raven."
About Edgar Allan Poe
Son of an American actor and an English actress, Poe was orphaned early,
and he was adopted and raised by his godfather, John Allen, and his
wife. After a classical education, he entered the U.S. Military Academy
at West Point, but left the academy without graduating, due at least in
part to his gambling and drinking. He began writing and publishing poetry
before he was out of his 'teens.
When he was 22, his "Manuscript
Found in a Bottle," won a $50 prize. Two years later he became editor of
the "Southern Literary Messenger," where he established his reputation
as a critical reviewer. Soon afterward, he married Virginia Clemm,
his 13-year-old cousin. (Although there was certainly genuine affection
between them, the marriage was undertaken mainly to enable him to protect
the orphaned young woman who was even then in poor health, and who died
of tuberculosis at about age 26.)
Because of his self-destructive drinking, Poe was dismissed from the
"Messenger." They moved to New York where he managed to support himself
writing stories, novels, reviews, and poetry, all of which brought
him fame, but not fortune. After the death of his wife in 1847, Poe
was romantically linked with several women, but he never remarried. He
was subject to frequent depression, and his alcoholic binges destroyed
his health; sadly, he died at the early age of 40. Although he had been
accused of the use of drugs, medical evidence is that he was also the
victim of a brain lesion.
Poe was a writer and poet of great gifts. His best-known poems are
probably "To Helen," "Annabel Lee" and famous for its repeated
refrain of "Nevermore" "The Raven." He is most remembered
for his beautifully-constructed and eerie stories of terror, mystery, and
horror. His short stories and novellas, such as "The Cask of Amontillado,"
"The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Masque of the Red
Death," and "The Fall of the House of Usher," still make great reading
today. Poe is also credited with being the father of the detective story.
"Murders in the Rue Morgue" introduces the Great Detective, C. Auguste
Dupin, who reappears in "The Purloined Letter," a masterful puzzle-story,
the solution of which is highly entertaining still.