Edgar Poe was born on January 19, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts to David Poe Jr. and Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe, both actors. Edgar had an elder brother named William Henry Leonard, and a younger sister named Rosalie. In 1810, their father abandoned them, and within a year their mother died of consumption. Edgar went to live with John Allan, a Scottish tobacco merchant in Richmond, Virginia; his siblings went to other families. The Allan family was quite well to do, and as a child Edgar lived a good life with them. As a mark of respect for his caretakers, Edgar took the middle name of Allan and came to be known as Edgar Allan Poe.
The Allan family traveled to England in 1815, where Edgar began to attend school. He attended Grammar School in Irvine, Scotland and boarding school in Chelsea in 1817. After boarding school, he attended the Reverend John Bransby’s Manor House School at Stoke Newington, near London. He enrolled at the University of Virginia in 1826, but he left within a year. Although the Allan family was quite well off, John Allan did not give Edgar much of an allowance in college. In an effort to supplement his income, Edgar began to gamble. His gambling debts were one of the reasons for the wedge between Edgar and his adoptive father.
Desperate for money, Poe joined the U.S. Army under the assumed name of Edgar A. Perry in 1827. He served for two years, and attained the rank of Sergeant Major. In 1829, Poe joined his older brother Henry, who was living with their widowed aunt Maria Clemm, and her daughter Virginia Eliza Clemm in Baltimore, Maryland. The same year, Poe’s foster mother, Francis Allan, passed away. Her dying request to her husband was that he reconcile with Edgar. In honor of her wish, John Allan obtained a commission for Poe to enter the United States Military Academy at West Point. Poe also published his second volume of poems titled Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems that same year.
Poe joined West Point in 1830,...