By Helen Morgan
This Year (2021) marks the 180th anniversary of the publication of the first detective story in English literature. Entitled ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’, it was written by Edgar Allan Poe, short-story writer, poet and literary critic, who was born in Boston, Massachusetts on the 19th January, 1909.
His father, David Poe Jnr, and his English mother, Elizabeth Arnolds Hopkins Poe, were touring actors, who both died before their son was three years old. One of three children, the infant Poe was adopted by John Allan, a tobacco merchant from Richmond, Virginia, who sent him to boarding school in England to be educated.
He later attended the University of Virginia but dropped out after a year as he had amassed a large amount of gambling debts and could no longer afford the University fees.
At the age of eighteen, Poe became engaged to Sarah Royster, with whom he was very much in love but his adoptive father broke off the engagement and she married someone else. Poe was left deeply traumatized and heartbroken.
In 1927, without any money or future Poe enlisted in the American Army. Two years later he became a West Point Cadet but was dismissed from his post after six months for disobedience. With the financial help of some of his fellow cadets Poe published his first book of poetry entitled Poems by Edgar A. Poe.