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Edgar Allan Poe is one of the leading figures of American literature He is known as a poet and a critic but is most famous as the first master of the short story form especially tales of the mysterious and gruesome In Poes poems like his tales his characters are tortured by nameless fears and longings Today Poe is acclaimed as one of Americas greatest writers but in his own unhappy lifetime he knew little but failure Poe had an unstable family life The insecure place he held at home interfered with his emotional stability He was born as the son of actors The two were not notably talented they played minor roles in third-rate theatrical companies Buranalli 7 Between them they barely managed to make a living Poe was the second of their three children About the time the third child was born the father died or disappeared and Mrs Poe went to Richmond Virginia with the two youngest children The oldest child William Henry had been left in the care of his grandparents in Baltimore shortly after his birth Mrs Poe was overtaken by a fatal illness tuberculosis Devastated by the disease and worn out with the struggle to support her children she died Edgar two years old and the infant Rosaline were orphaned Poe was taken into the home of John Allan a wealthy merchant His wife Frances Allan had no children and wanted to adopt Poe as her son Mr Allan was unwilling to commit himself to a step of such permanence The acting profession was despised at the time and was even considered immoral Meyers 11 Mr Allan thought the little son of actor parents was a questionable person to inherit his name and the fortune he was busy accumulating He was however willing to support the child to please his wife Family was of the greatest importance in Richmond the place where Poe spent most of his
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