Poe, Edgar Allan

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Poe's actor parents died before he was three years old (his father had disappeared before he was born and his mother died in 1811) and he was fostered (never formally adopted) by a merchant named John Allan and his wife, Frances, who had been a friend of his mother. His older brother was raised by their grandfather and his younger sister was adopted by a different family, the Mackenzies, but he remained in contact with them. When he was six the family moved to England, but they returned to the USA in 1820.

His later life was over-shadowed by financial and mental problems and periodic drunkenness, and he was temporarily disinherited by his foster father.

He is famous for his short stories and poems, such as "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Gold Bug," "The Black Cat," "The Raven" and "Annabel Lee."


Dever, Maria, and Dever, Aileen. Relative Origins: Famous Foster and Adopted People. (Portland: National Book Company, 1992)
Dictionary of American Biography
Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, 1993-97
Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-Ending Rembrance. (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1991)
Anderson, Madelyn Klein. Edgar Allan Poe: A Mystery. (New York: Franklin Watts, 1993) (An Impact Biography)
"Edgar Allen Poe: The Dark Genius of the Short Story." [Includes portrait]. Available at:
SK Online Solutions. "The Biography of Edgar Allan Poe." Available at:
Allen, Hervey. "Biography of Edgar Allan Poe." (1927). Available at:


19th Century
Estrangement from Adoptive or Foster Family
Addiction or Abuse (drugs, Alcohol or Gambling)
Mental Illness
Financial Problems, Poverty, Bankruptcy
Formal, American/European-Type Fostering
Pre-school Years
Orphaned (Both Parents)
Family Friends or Acquaintances
Wealthy, Famous, Noble or Divine Adoptive or Foster Families
Parent(s) Died, Disappeared or Became Incapacitated
Birth Sibling(s) Separated
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