Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Poe Shadow

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The Poe Shadow

by Matthew Pearl

The Poe Shadow
  • Critics' Opinion:

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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2006, 384 pages
    Jul 2007, 384 pages

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Beyond the Book

Edgar Allan Poe was born Edgar Poe in 1809 to Elizabeth and David Poe, both actors. They died when he was three and he was taken in by John Allan, a tobacco merchant living in Virginia. He became estranged from his foster father in the mid to late 1820s and joined the US Army under the name Edgar Perry - he served for two years before being discharged with the rank of Sergeant in 1829. During this time he published his first book, Tamerlane and Other Poems.

His foster-mother's deathbed wish was that he would reconcile with his foster-father, who arranged for him to attend the military academy at West Point, but while there he deliberately disobeyed orders and was dismissed - and was promptly disowned by his foster-father again.

Poe moved to Baltimore to live with his widowed aunt, Maria Clemm, writing fiction to support himself. In 1836 he married his first cousin, Virginia, who was just 13-years-old.

Over the next few years he established a reputation...

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