Edgar Allen Poe
Poe was born to traveling actors in Boston on January 19, 1809. Edgar was the second of three children. His other brother William Henry Leonard Poe would also become a poet before his early death and Poe’s sister Rosalie Poe would grow up to teach penmanship at a Richmond girls’ school. Within three years of Poe’s birth both of his parents had died, and he was taken in by the wealthy tobacco merchant John Allan and his wife Frances Valentine Allan in Richmond, Virginia while Poe’s siblings went to live with other families. Mr. Allan would rear Poe to be a businessman and a Virginia gentleman, but Poe had dreams of being a writer in emulation of his childhood hero the British poet Lord Byron. Early poetic verses found written in a young Poe’s handwriting on the backs of Allan’s ledger sheets reveal how little interest Poe had in the tobacco business. By the age of thirteen, Poe had compiled enough poetry to publish a book, but his headmaster advised Allan against allowing this. However, Poe's willingness and ability to pander consistently to popular tastes, especially given his lifelong penchant for self-destructive behavior.
The antebellum era linked horses and slaves as branded, bred, and brutish chattel. Poe's story begins with an "ancient prophecy" predicting the fall of both houses. Like an abolitionist fanatic, however, the Baron ignores all warnings. He fails to tame the devilish brute that survives the fire of Berlifitzing's stables, bringing to pass the darkest fears of anti-abolitionists—that the emancipation of African slaves would destroy both North and South, that blacks would come to rule over whites, and that the United States would go up in flames in the shadow of slaves without masters.
Poe’s Writings * The Raven * * Published 1845 * The Masque of the Red Death * Published 1842 * The Cask of Amontillado * Published 1847 * The Tell-Tale Heart *