Edgar Allan Poe was born Edgar Poe on January 19, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts, the second of three children. Both his parents were actors and he was named after a character in "King Lear" by William Shakespeare. His father left the family a year after his birth and in 1811, his mother died from tuberculosis. Young Edgar was then sent to live with the Allan family in Virginia, which is where he received his middle name.
In 1815, the family sailed to Britain and stayed for nearly five years. He was educated in Scotland and London before returning to Virginia in 1820. In 1826, Poe attended the University of Virginia, which had just been founded by Thomas Jefferson a year earlier. It was then, that he became engaged to Sarah Elmira Royster, but she ended up marrying someone else, and due to his gambling debts, he broke off his relationship with his foster parents.
In 1827, Edgar returned to Boston, working as a newspaper writer under the name Henri Le Rennet, but was unable to support himself and enlisted in the army under the name Edgar A. Perry. He rose to the rank of Sergeant Major in South Carolina, but was unhappy and asked to be discharged in order to attend West Point. Instead, he moved to Baltimore to live with his aunt, her daughter, his grandmother and his brother and began writing books of poetry.
He reconciled with Mr. Allan, his foster-father briefly when Mrs. Allan died, but when Allan married a second time, broke off the relationship again. Poe then attended West Point. Leaving for New York City in 1831, he wrote another book of poetry. Returning to Baltimore when he was 26, he married his 13 year old cousin, taking her and her mother to Virginia where his writing career finally took off.
He was promised a position in the administration of President Tyler, but because he was a drunk, was passed over. In 1845, "The Raven" became a huge success, but Poe made only $9 from it. His wife Virginia died from tuberculosis and he began drinking even more.
Poe died on October 7, 1849 under mysterious circumstances. He had been found on the street in Baltimore "in great distress" four days earlier wearing someone else's clothes. The death certificate and medical records went missing as well. He was 40 years old and is buried in Baltimore. For nearly 60 years, a mysterious figure left cognac and three rose upon the grave, but stopped on January 19, 2009. Another mystery in life of a mysterious individual.