Most of us know that Edgar Allan Poe was one of the greatest figures in American literature. It is also common knowledge that the late poet/literary critic was the architect of the modern short story as well as the originator of the detective fiction and sci-fi genres. However, what do you know about Edgar Allan Poe’s family and personal life. Who were his parents? Who was his wife? Did he have any kids? All these and more questions about the great writer are answered below.
Edgar Allan Poe’s Family
Edgar Allan Poe (birth name – Edgar Poe) was born on the 19th of January 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts. His mother’s name was Eliza Arnold while his father’s name was David Poe Jr. Poe’s mom, Eliza, was originally from England and was born in London in 1787. She and her mother later immigrated to America upon her father’s demise. In America, the nine-year-old Eliza started acting and would go on to become a career actress. She worked with several theatre troupes, and played up to 300 parts, in the course of a successful career.
Poe’s father, David Poe Jr, was also a career actor. He was born on the 18th of July 1784 in Baltimore, Maryland. His family initially wanted him to become a lawyer but he defied their wishes in order to become an actor. He, however, did not achieve much in his chosen profession; a fact that has been attributed to his stage fright as well as his drinking problems. David Poe Jr deserted his wife and children in 1809 and reportedly died in 1811. Eliza, on the other hand, also passed away on the 8th of December 1811.
Edgar Allan Poe’s family background includes two blood siblings; elder brother, William Henry Leonard Poe, and younger sister, Rosalie Poe. William Henry Leonard was born on the 30th of January 1807 in Boston, Massachusetts. He, however, grew up in Baltimore, with his paternal grandparents, after the demise of his parents. Henry initially spent several years working as a sailor. He later quit sailing in 1827 and subsequently embarked on a second career as a writer of poems and short stories.
Even though Henry never reached the Olympian heights of his younger brother, he still managed to publish several works including Dreams, The Pirate, and Original Lines of a Pocket Book. Henry Poe later died of tuberculosis on the 1st of August 1831. He was aged 24 years old.
The last member of Edgar Allan Poe’s birth family is younger sister, Rosalie Mackenzie Poe. She was born in December 1810, and was said to have been mentally retarded. Following the death of both parents, Rosalie was adopted by a Virginian couple known as William and Jane Scott Mackenzie.
Edgar Allan Poe’s Foster Parents
Following the demise of his biological parents, the then two-year-old Poe was shipped off to the home of a Richmond couple namely, John and Frances Allan. John Allan was a wealthy merchant who dealt in several goods including wheat, tobacco, and cloth. He and his wife did not formally adopt Poe but they gave him their name. They also took him with them during the several years they lived in England. Allan also enrolled his ward in several schools including the University of Virginia. Poe, however, did not complete his degree as a result of insufficient resources. It is believed that his foster father provided him with the required funds but he gambled it away.
Wife and Children
Edgar Allan Poe was married just once in his lifetime and that marriage was to his cousin, Virginia Eliza Clemm. Virginia was born on the 15th of August 1822 in Baltimore, Maryland. Her father was Poe’s paternal uncle, William Clemm Jr., while her mother’s name was Maria. Poe first met his future wife when he joined their household in 1833. They fell for each other along the way and applied for a marriage license in September 1835. The two were later wed by a Presbyterian minister on the 16th of May 1836. Poe was 27 years old at the time while Virginia was 13, though her age was listed as 21.
Accounts of the couple’s marriage vary. Some sources state that Poe was an affectionate husband while some others state that he carried on some improper associations to the extent that Virginia accused him of murdering her while she lay on her deathbed. Whichever it was, the couple remained together until Virginia died of tuberculosis on the 30th of January 1847. Poe’s marriage to Virginia did not produce any kids. His other relationships, after her demise, did not also yield any offspring.