Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849), was a Boston-born poet and author who briefly lived in Irvine.

On the 19th of January, 1809 Edgar Allan Poe – Poet and Author- was born in Boston, Massachusetts. 

He was born as Edgar Poe to David Poe, an actor and Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins, an English-born actress. Unfortunately Edgar and his 2 siblings were soon to be orphans as both his parents died within a year of each other, his father in 1810 and his mother in 1811. Edgar and his younger sister Rosalie were with his mother at the time of her death.  

Edgar was taken in and raised by John Allan, an Irvine born tobacco merchant of Richmond, Virginia and his wife Frances. Although he was never formally adopted by them he adopted their name and was known as Edgar Allan Poe. His older brother Henry was raised by his grandfather, General David Poe in Baltimore, Maryland and his sister Rosalie was fostered by a family in Richmond. 

The Allan’s returned to Irvine in 1815 to visit relatives and Edgar came with them. He stayed with John’s sister Mary Galt at Bridgegate House and attended the Kirkgate Grammar School. As part of a school exercise Edgar had to copy some of the epitaphs from the gravestones at the Irvine Parish Church and would often play in the churchyard with his cousin John. It’s quite possible that his liking for the macabre was born here, who knows! 

Whilst in Ayrshire Edgar also visited family members in Kilmarnock and even had a day trip to Arran. He attended services in both the Irvine and Kilmarnock kirks which he found to be long and depressing and also found the discipline at the Kirkgate Grammar School to be very strict! He stayed in Irvine for a while longer but was eventually returned to the Allan’s who were now in London and in 1817 Edgar was sent to boarding school in Chelsea. 

Returning to the United States in 1820, Poe failed to complete his studies at the University of Virginia and after some initial success in the military, engineered his own discharge from West Point. His relationship with John Allan was tense and after declaring his wish to be a poet and a writer they parted ways.  

As for his writing he was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story genre, and came to be considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre, and is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. He has also been described as one to the first authors to have made, or attempted to make, his living solely from writing. Among his best known works are The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Fall of the House of Usher and The Murders in the Rue Morgue. 

Edgar died in Baltimore, Maryland in October 1849 aged 40. He was found to be wandering the streets in clothes that were not his own and in a delirious state. There are many theories as to the cause of his death but we will never know for sure as all medical records, including his death certificate were lost.