19 Jan 1809: Edgar Poe’s birth

Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849)


On January 19, 1809, poet, author and literary critic Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He was the second child of two actors, who might have named him after a character in William Shakespeare’s King Lear, a play that the couple were performing in 1809. He never really knew his parents because his father abandoned their family in 1810, and his mother died the following year from tuberculosis.

The child went to live with John and Frances Valentine Allan, in Richmond, Virginia. John  Allan was a successful Scottish merchant who dealt in a variety of goods, including tobacco, cloth, wheat, tombstones, and slaves.  They served as a foster family and gave him the name “Edgar Allan Poe”, though they never formally adopted him. While Edgar and Frances seemed to form a bond, he had a more difficult relationship with John Allan, who alternately spoiled and aggressively disciplined him. Tension developed later as the two repeatedly clashed over money. By the age of 13, Poe was a prolific poet, but his literary talents were discouraged by John Allan, who wanted him to follow the family business.  But Poe preferred poetry over profits, and went on writing poems, even  on the back of Allan’s business papers. 

If you like, read the story I’ve written on Poe’s mysterious death (in Italian):




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