CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Edgar Poe was born in Boston on Jan. 19, 1809. His mother, Eliza, and father, David, were professional actors. He was the second of three children, with an older brother named William and a younger sister named Rosalie.
Shortly after Poe's birth, his father abandoned the family, and then his mother died. At this point, he was taken in by John and Frances Allan, wealthy tobacco merchants in Virginia.
Later he would change his name to include the Allans' last name. However, the Allans never formally adopted him.
As a young man, Poe spent one semester at the University of Virginia. After that, he spent time in the military, first in the Army, lying about his name and age to enlist, and then as a cadet at West Point where he was court-martialed and discharged in a move he orchestrated himself.
He spent much of his time the following years working for literary journals in Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City. In 1835, at age 26, he married his cousin, Virginia Clemm, who was 13 at the time.
In 1845, Poe wrote and published "The Raven." This poem would prove to be his most famous work; he said he believed it to be the greatest poem ever written.
Before "The Raven," Poe was best known as a literary critic. He was especially critical of poet Henry Longfellow, who he accused of plagiarism. The two had an ongoing battle.