Edgar Allan Poe was many things before he was discovered half-dead and delirious in a gutter in Baltimore in 1849 only to die several days later. He was a poet, a husband, a critic and an ex-military man. For those who are familiar only with the great American author's moustache or his poem "The Raven", here are a few pieces of trivia for the tortured poet's 207th birthday.
1. The master of short horror and scary stories was born Jan. 19, 1809 to two professional actors, both of whom died before his third birthday. He was fostered, though never legally adopted, by his godparents, John and Frances Allan.
2. The now well-known author was considered a literary failure for much of his life, struggling to sell stories to newspapers and failing to achieve wide acclaim.
3. Poe was born in Boston and went on to enlist in the army at age 18 when he was broke, signing up under the name Edgar A. Perry, only to seek discharge two years later.
— The Paris Review (@parisreview) January 19, 2016
4. Many literary historians credit French poet Charles Baudelaire with creating Poe's legacy after his death in 1849. Baudelaire wrote some of the first translations of Poe which then became widely popular in France and helped establish Poe as a serious writer in the eyes of literary elite throughout Europe and the world.
5. The poet was known for spells of melancholy, when he would often walk the streets and brood about his next story idea. “Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night,” he wrote in the 1842 short story “Eleonora.”
6. Poe was not only a skilled craftsman of fiction but an astute critic who wrote many theories of literature in a series of essays. “That pleasure which is at once the most intense, the most elevating, and the most pure is, I believe, found in the contemplation of the beautiful,” wrote Poe in his essay The Philosophy of Composition. “When, indeed, men speak of Beauty, they mean, precisely, not a quality, as is supposed, but an effect- they refer, in short, just to that intense and pure elevation of soul.”
7. The circumstances of Poe's death are very mysterious and remain unconfirmed to this day. He was found wandering the streets of Baltimore, rambling and feverish, and the cause of his death has been variously attributed to tuberculosis, rabies, alcoholism, carbon monoxide poisoning, or even murder.