Edgar Allan Poe Net Worth

How much was Edgar Allan Poe worth?

Net Worth:$20 Million
Profession:Professional Writer
Date of Birth:January 19, 1809
Country:United States of America
1.73 m

Who Is Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe, one of the most influential American authors of the 19th century, was only 40 years old when he died, disoriented and intoxicated, in Baltimore in 1849. During his relatively short writing career he played a major role in establishing the short story as a literary form as well as helping to launch the genres of macabre tales, science fiction, and even detective stories.

American writer, poet, editor, and literary critic Edgar Allan Poe had an inflation-adjusted net worth of $20 million dollars at the time of his death, in 1849. Poe is known for his short stories and tales of mystery and the macabre.

Poe’s life was always troubled.

The orphaned son of actors, he was raised by a foster father with whom he had many problems. As a young man he briefly attended the University of Virginia, served in the U.S. Army, and was expelled from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He became determined to follow a career as a writer.

He had many problems trying to support himself with his writing. And his personal problems were legendary. A drinking problem and apparent mental instability was not helped when his young wife, to whom he was deeply devoted, died a slow and agonizing death.

Despite publishing a number of works and developing a reputation as a talented writer, he went into a decline and his life seemed destined to conclude sadly. He is often remembered as a legendary tragic figure. Yet he is also regarded as an American literary giant to be ranked beside Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, and Henry David Thoreau.

Early Life of Poe

Poe was born on January 19, 1809, the son of David and Elizabeth Poe, a pair of impoverished actors. Both his parents died within three years of his birth, and he was raised by John Allan, a merchant in Richmond, Virginia, and his wife Frances.

The Allans saw that Poe was educated as a child, though John Allan was not terribly approving of having the boy as part of the household. In 1826 Poe enrolled at the University of Virginia, an institution founded by Thomas Jefferson.

Poe’s college career was disastrous. He apparently drank heavily and ran up gambling debts. His foster father refused to pay his debts, and Poe withdrew from the university. In the spring of 1827 he struck out on his own, somehow making his way to Boston where he managed to convince a bookseller to publish a book of his poetry, Tamerlane and Other Poems.

Unable to survive financially, Poe decided to join the U.S. Army, and enlisted under the assumed name of Edgar A. Perry. Discovering that he might have a career as an Army officer, he secured an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy. He entered West Point in the summer of 1830.

Realizing after a few months that the discipline of West Point was not for him, Poe stopped going to classes and reporting for inspections. He was put on trial at a court-martial on January 28, 1831, and expelled from the academy.

Poe, at 24, decided his career would be as a writer, not a soldier.

Writing Career

Moving to Baltimore in 1831 to live with relatives of his birth mother, Poe wrote poetry and short stories but had little success. The family was impoverished, though Poe was comfortable and content living with his aunt, two cousins, and grandmother.

During the early 1830s Poe entered several writing contests held by newspapers and magazines. He did well enough to win $50 and, more importantly, some praise for his writing ability. By 1835 he began publishing articles in the Southern Literary Messenger, an influential magazine published in Richmond, Virginia.

The owner of the Messenger offered Poe a job as editor, which he accepted. He moved to Richmond, but the position did not work out. Perhaps haunted by unhappy memories of his childhood in Richmond, Poe began drinking heavily, was fired from the job, and returned to Baltimore.

Poe was offered a second chance in Richmond when the owner of the magazine promised he could have his job back if he remained sober. He returned to the city, this time bringing with him his new bride. He had married his 13-year-old cousin, Virginia Clemm.

During his second tenure as editor of the Southern Literary Messenger, Poe created controversy by reviewing books, often in very harsh terms. He wound up getting fired again, but by that time he had gained a reputation as a literary critic.

Poe went on to work as an editor at journals in New York City and Philadelphia, and in 1839 his first book of stories was published with the title Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque. The book did not sell well, and he embarked on a venture to edit his own magazine. It was not successful, and he took a position as an editor at Graham’s Magazine in Philadelphia.

Throughout the early 1840s Poe worked on detective stories, which included “The Gold Bug” and “The Purloined Letter.” One of his characters, a detective named C. Auguste Dupin, would become a prototype for Sherlock Holmes, the great detective created by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Though he may not have considered the detective stories to be great works of art, they paid better than anything else Poe had written. But his success was again thwarted by his drinking. At one point he traveled to Washington, D.C., hoping to secure a government job in the administration of John Tyler, but a drinking episode scuttled the trip and he returned to Philadelphia, humiliated.

Personal Decline

In 1844 Poe and his young wife moved to New York City. The following year he perpetrated a famous hoax in the pages of the New York Sun, a penny press newspaper given to sensational stories. Poe’s story detailed a balloon trip across the Atlantic Ocean. The story gained him enough fame that he was offered a job editing a newspaper, the New York Mirror.

In January 1845 Poe published his most famous poem, “The Raven,” in the pages of the Mirror. His life seemed to be going well at long last, but, true to form, his personality flaws and heavy drinking created problems. There were rumors of drunken episodes in the streets of New York and Boston.

Virginia Clemm Poe, who had been suffering from consumption for years, died on January 30, 1847. Poe never recovered from the loss of his wife. For the last two years of his life he tried to launch another magazine, and hoped to remarry. But he seemed caught in a downward spiral.

On trips he took trying to raise funds to start a new publishing venture, he would drink so much that he’d become convinced men were planning to kill him. He disappeared in Baltimore in late September 1849, and when he was found, on October 3, 1849, he was too disoriented to explain where he had been or what had happened. He died on October 7, 1849.

Poe’s Legacy

Poe is regarded today as one of the creators of modern literature, as the psychological depths of his often macabre stories foreshadowed 20th century writing. And the genres which Poe pioneered, specifically horror and detective stories, have become increasingly popular over time.

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