28 pages 56 minutes read

Edgar Allan Poe


Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1835

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Authorial Context: Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer born in 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts. His father left the family a year after his birth, and his mother died shortly after. The Allan family of Richmond, Virginia took him in, but his relationship with his foster father was tumultuous. Poe’s writing shaped the modern detective story and the horror genre. Many of his short stories and poems address the theme of the death of a beautiful woman. In addition to “Berenice” (1835), the short story “Ligeia” (1838) and the poems “The Raven“ (1845) and “Annabel Lee“ (1849) also feature beautiful women who die tragically young. In his essay “The Philosophy of Composition,” Poe famously claims that “the death, then, of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world” (Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Philosophy of Composition.” Graham’s Magazine, vol. 28, no. 4, 1846, p. 165).


Poe’s fascination with young women’s deaths reflects events in his life. Having lost his mother as a toddler and his foster mother, Frances Allan, in 1829, Poe’s life was heavily shaped by loss. In 1836, one year after he published “Berenice,” Poe married his first cousin, Virginia Clemm, who was only 13 years old.