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Best known for his poems and short fiction Edgar Allan Poe deserves more credit than any other writer for the transformation of the short story from anecdote to art He virtually created the detective story and perfected the psychological thriller He also produced some of the most influential literary criticism of his time--important theoretical statements on poetry and the short story--and has had a worldwide influence on literature Poes parents were touring actors both died before he was 3 years old and he was taken into the home of John Allan a prosperous merchant in Richmond Va and baptized Edgar Allan Poe His childhood was uneventful although he studied 1815-20 for 5 years in England In 1826 he entered the University of Virginia but stayed for only a year Although a good student he ran up large gambling debts that Allan refused to pay Allan prevented his return to the university and broke off Poes engagement to Sarah Elmira Royster his Richmond sweetheart Lacking any means of support Poe enlisted in the army He had however already written and printed at his own expense his first book Tamerlane and Other Poems 1827 verses written in the manner of Byron Temporarily reconciled Allan secured Poes release from the army and his appointment to West Point but refused to provide financial support After 6 months Poe apparently contrived to be dismissed from West Point for disobedience of orders His fellow cadets however contributed the funds for the publication of Poems by Edgar A PoeSecond Edition 1831 actually a third edition--after Tamerlane and Al Aaraaf Tamerlane and Minor Poems 1829 This volume contained the famous To Helen and Israfel poems that show the restraint and the calculated musical effects of language that were to characterize his poetry Poe next took up residence in Baltimore with his widowed aunt Maria Clemm and her daughter Virginia and turned to fiction as a way to support himself In
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