艾德加·爱伦·坡（1809-49）生于波士顿，父母为流浪艺人。一八一一年父母双亡，由弗吉尼亚州里士满富商约翰·爱伦收养。爱伦夫妇把他带往英国，一八一五至二○年在英国读书。返回里士满（Richmond）后与爱伦反目，始终没有和解，后者一八三四年逝世时，遗嘱中对坡只字未提。曾入佛吉尼亚大学，未几辍学，投效美国陆军，升为军士长，后入西点军校。故意犯过被开除后，在巴尔的摩、里士满、纽约与费城以卖文为生，受雇于若干期刊，其中包括《南方文学使者》。一八三六年和十三岁的表妹佛吉尼亚·克莱姆结婚，十年后妻子死于肺病。其后精神日益失常，终至于神智昏迷，死于巴尔的摩一沟渠里。出版过三本诗集∶《帖木儿》（Tamerlane，1827），《艾尔·阿拉夫》（Al Aaraaf，1829），《诗集》(Poems, 1831)。后来的大部分作品──诗、短篇小说、评论文章──均在杂志上发表。短篇小说最初收入《述异集》(Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, 1840)里，余者收入《故事集》(Tales, 1845)。其他作品尚有研究创作心理的文章《我得之矣∶一首散文诗》(Eureka: A Prose Poem, 1848)与《阿瑟·戈登．皮姆的故事》(The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, 1838)。
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49)
"Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before" ("The Raven")
Edgar Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts. His parents were itinerant actors who died when he was very young. He was taken into the care of one John Allan, a tobacco exporter, whose surname he took for his own middle name after 1824. Between 1815 and 1820, Poe and the Allans lived in England and the young orphan attended Manor House school in Stoke Newington. After his return to the United States, Poe went to the University of Virginia but left after he accumulated considerable gambling debts trying to make up for other money he owed. He published his first volume of poetry, Tamurlane and Other Poems anonymously and at his own expense in 1827. After this, Poe joined the army and entered West Point in 1830, although he was dishonourably discharged one year later for intentional neglect of duties.
Poe had continued writing poetry and publishing at his own expense during this period, but now he sought employment as a professional writer. As editor of the Southern Literary Messenger he increased its circulation from 500 to 3,500 copies and achieved a similar feat on a grander scale at Graham's Magazine. He began to write the short stories that would constitute his great legacy to literature and published them in magazines. At this time he was living in poverty with his aunt Mrs Clemm in Baltimore. He would marry her thirteen-year-old daughter Virginia (his cousin) in 1836, but her tuberculosis and his depression were an unhappy combination.
The first collection of Poe's stories, Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque was published in 1840 and contained the famous Gothic romance "The Fall of the House of Usher". It was the poem "The Raven" and its accompanying volume of poetry (published in 1845) that brought Poe fame, however. Still he struggled against poverty. He remained sadly underrated in his own time. Even in 1846, Poe failed to sell a collection of stories for the price of $50. He was given only $14 for Eureka and even that was on the basis that if it sold less then he would have to make up the difference. His alcoholism and laudanum addiction worsened, unsurprisingly (although he found time to lecture his local temperance society on the evils of drink) and he made one attempt at suicide. His wife passed away in 1847, and Poe himself died in appropriately tragic circumstances of heart failure, alcohol, and epilepsy or some combination of these factors in 1849. After his death his reputation grew considerably with the enthusiastic response of Swinburne, Wilde, Rossetti and Yeats to his poetry, and of Stevenson among others to his short stories.