Edgar Allan Poe’s life (1809—1849) was gothic, mysterious, theatrical and fatally flawed — in short, an ideal subject for one of Peter Ackroyd’s brilliantly concise, dramatic and immensely readable biographies.
Edgar Allan Poe has been claimed as the forerunner of modern fantasy, and credited with the invention of psychological dramas (long before Freud), science fiction (before H.G. Wells and Jules Verne), and the detective story (before Arthur Conan Doyle), as well as influencing European Symbolism and Surrealism.
Peter Ackroyd’s biography of Poe opens with his end, his final days — no one knows what happened between the time when friends saw him off on the steamboat to Baltimore and his discovery six days later dying in a tavern. This mystery sets the scene for a short life packed with drama and tragedy (drink and poverty) combined with extraordinary brilliance. Ultimately, Peter Ackroyd claims, Poe found his family among writers, not only those of his time but also those of future generations who were influenced by the power of his imagination.