Poe’s Woes

Julian Symons

  • Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-Ending Remembrance by Kenneth Silverman
    Weidenfeld, 564 pp, £25.00, March 1992, ISBN 0 297 81253 X

The prosecution case against Edgar A. Poe looks a strong one. Taken in by the Richmond tobacco broker John Allan when left orphaned at the age of two by the death of his actress mother Eliza, brought up as a member of the family and sent to the University of Virginia, he responded by running up gambling debts and drinking, so that he left after a year. Abandonment after a few months of the Army career he had chosen involved more debts to be paid by Allan, who for the three years of life remaining to him was intermittently though unsuccessfully dunned by the young man he condemned as ‘destitute of honor & principle every day of his life has only served to confirm his debased nature’.

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