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Remembering E.A. Poe on his 202nd birthday

Edgar Allan Poe was like a 19th century Ricky Gervais: he basked in genius, needled the pompous, and didn’t care what you thought of him. Ironically, Poe’s life was so wrought with tragedy and misfortune it’s amazing he survived the 40 years he did, much less that he evolved into one of America’s most respected writers/poets. Most know the basics: Poe was born in Boston on January 19, 1809. His parents were actors, but his father bailed on the family not too long after Edgar was born. His mother died shortly thereafter, leaving him an orphan. From there, John and Frances Allan raised him, primarily in Richmond, Virginia and London, England. John Allan was a relatively wealthy merchant and put Edgar in good schools. Eventually, Poe was disowned by Allan, left the University of Virginia after an accumulation of gambling debts, and joined the Army. Along the way, though, Poe kept writing and, as author James Lee Burke has said, “remained true to the gift.”

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