The Great American Writer, Edgar Allan Poe, Married A Child

(Left: Photograph of Edgar Allan Poe, reproduced from a lost daguerreotype c. between 1844 and 1847, Right: Watercolor of Virginia Clemm Poe painted after her death in 1847, both [Public Domain] via Creative Commons)


With his literary career not generating revenue and his foster father not providing any support, a young Edgar Allan Poe in his early twenties roamed the eastern coast of the United States looking for ways to make a living. Read about Poe’s early-life family and educational troubles, HERE. He drifted through cities such as New York, Philadelphia and Richmond, before finally settling in with his aunt, Maria Clemm, who had a home in Baltimore, Maryland. From 1831 to 1835, Edgar Allan Poe would live with his aunt and her young daughter, Virginia.

While living with his aunt, Poe finally received some literary recognition when his piece, “MS. Found in a Bottle,” won a $50 prize from a contest in the Baltimore Saturday Visitor. Although the prize was some of the first acclaim Poe had received for his work, he had already published two books of poetry, Tamerlane and Other Poems(1827) and Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems (1829). These books received little recognition at the time, even though modern observers believe the collections to contain masterpieces.

For Edgar Allan Poe, the best accomplishment he achieved during his stay with the Clemm family was the relationship he developed with his cousin, the young Virginia Clemm. When, in 1835, he was offered the position of editor at the Southern Literary Messenger of Richmond Virginia, he brought Maria and Virginia Clemm to live with him in his new home. The next year, in 1836, Edgar Allan Poe and Virginia were married. He was in his late twenties, at the time. Virginia, on the other hand, was only between 12 and 14 years of age.

The marriage would last for over a decade, but, tragically, Virginia died of tuberculosis in 1847. She was still in her early twenties at the time. Edgar Allan Poe grew darker after the death of his wife, and he quickly began to give way to his ongoing fight against depression and alcoholism.

In 1849, Edgar Allan Poe left Richmond Virginia, intending to arrive in Philadelphia. Mysteriously, he was found delirious in Baltimore and died on October 7, 1849. The cause of the great author’s death remains unknown and debated. There are many theories about the cause of death, including being beaten to death, rabies, poisoning, or even a case of fatal kidnapping.

Written by C. Keith Hansley.


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