Edgar Allen Poe, First Mystery Writer

Jan 21, 2011 By Vibeka
Vibeka Sisodiya's picture

Even though Edgar Allan Poe only lived for 40 years, his impact on English literature is really quite amazing.

Poe is considered to be one of the greatest authors, poets, editors and literary critics (someone who studies and judges works of literature). However, what he is best known for are his incredibly imaginative and scary mystery stories. Poe would have turned 202 on Jan. 19.

Born in 1809, Poe started his career as a poet at the age of 18. He began writing short stories soon after, and was one of very few American authors of his time to make a living from writing.

Although he struggled financially, he gave us such dark classics like his poems, “The Raven,” and “Annabel Lee,” and short stories “The Cask of Amontillado,” "The Telltale Heart," and "The Murders in the Rue Morgue." (Poe’s works are not appropriate for all ages, so please check with your parents or teacher before reading them.)

Poe was the inventor of the modern mystery novel, which is usually about a detective investigating and solving a crime, often a murder. He also influenced what we now know as science fiction. He died suddenly in 1849 from an unknown illness.

A Modern Mystery

Poe’s love of mystery seems to have carried over to the modern day.

The world has been fascinated by a strange tradition that started back in January 1949, on what would have been Poe’s 140th birthday. That’s when a mysterious admirer started leaving roses and a bottle of cognac, believed to have been Poe’s favorite drink, every year by his grave in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. The practice continued for 60 years, and suddenly stopped in 2009, on the 200th anniversary of Poe’s birth. People are still wondering who the secret admirer was, and what happened to him.

Had he been around, Poe would have certainly appreciated this particular mystery.