The Life and Times of Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe's life encompassed some of the most exciting years of the 19th century. Poe witnessed tremendous advances in science, technology, and literature during his lifetime. Below, you will find a chronology of Poe's life events in bold, alongside a listing of world events and works published by notable writers of the English language.


  • Edgar Poe is born
  • Other notable births: Lord Alfred Tennyson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln


  • Poe's mother dies; Poe joins the John Allan household
  • "Luddites" destroy industrial machines in north England


  • Charles Dickens is born
  • Lord Byron publishes Child Harold's Pilgrimage; J. and W. Grimm publish Fairy Tales
  • War of 1812 begins


  • Lord Byron publishes The Corsair
  • British soldiers burn the White House
  • War of 1812 ends
  • The Savannah is the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean (26 days)


  • The Allan family moves to England; Poe attends boarding school there
  • L.J. Prout publishes hypothesis on the relation between specific gravity and atomic weight


  • Jane Austen publishes Emma; Samuel Coleridge publishes Kubla Khan
  • Baltimore becomes the first American city to charter a gas company to light its streets


  • Mary Shelley publishes Frankenstein; William Cullen Bryant publishes Thanatopsis
  • Blackwood's Magazine founded in Edinburgh, Scotland


  • Notable births: Walt Whitman and Herman Melville
  • Washington Irving publishes Sketch Book
  • H.C. Oersted discovers electromagnetism


  • Allan family returns to Richmond; Poe continues his education
  • Walter Scott publishes Ivanhoe
  • T. R. Malthus publishes Principles of Political Economy
  • Missouri Compromise: Maine admitted as free state, Missouri as slave state


  • James F. Cooper publishes The Spy; Thomas deQuincey publishes Confessions of an English Opium Eater
  • T. J. Seebeck discovers thermoelectricity


  • James F. Cooper publishes The Pioneers
  • Monroe Doctrine declared


  • First cotton mills established in Lowell, Massachusetts


  • Lord Byron dies
  • Lafayette begins American tour


  • Allan inherits his uncle's fortune
  • Classes commence at Thomas Jefferson's University of Virginia
  • Erie Canal opens
  • 600 Boston carpenters strike for a ten hour work day


  • Poe enters University of Virginia and leaves the same year
  • James F. Cooper publishes The Last of the Mohicans; Andre Ampere publishes Electrodynamics
  • Steam engine pioneer John Stevens demonstrates first U.S. steam locomotive on half-mile track in Hoboken, New Jersey


  • Poe enlists in U.S. Army
  • Tamerlane published
  • John Aubodon publishes Birds of North America
  • George Ohm formulates Ohm's law defining electrical current potential and resistance
  • Joseph Niepce produces photographs on asphalt coated metal plate


  • Jules Verne born
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne publishes Fanshawe; Noah Webster publishes American Dictionary; Thomas Carlyle publishes Essay on Goethe (draws attention to German Literature)
  • Construction begins on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the first railroad to provide regular service in the U.S.
  • Workingman's Party is formed in Philadelphia
  • Andrew Jackson elected President


  • Mrs. Allan dies
  • Poe leaves the Army
  • Poe publishes Al Araaf, Tamerlane and Other
  • Washington Irving publishes The Conquest of Granada; Alfred Tennyson publishes Timbuctoo
  • Joseph Henry constructs an early version of electromagnetic motor


  • Poe enters U.S. Military Academy at West Point
  • Mr. Allan remarries
  • Emily Dickinson is born
  • Wendell Oliver Holmes publishes Old Ironsides; Alfred Tennyson publishes Poems, Chiefly Lyrical; Daniel Webster publishes Speeches
  • U.S. government begins moving American Indians to lands west of the Mississippi River


  • Poe is court-martialed from West Point,
  • Poe moves to Baltimore and lives with Aunt Maria Clemm and cousin Virginia
  • Poe publishes Poems
  • Nat Turner Rebellion
  • Charles Darwin sails as a naturalist on a surveying expedition to South America, New Zealand, and Australia


  • Poe publishes "Metzengertein," "Bon Bon," "The Duc De L'Omelette," "A Tale of Jeruselem," "Loss of Breath"
  • William Cullen Bryant publishes Poems
  • First horse-drawn trolleys in New York City
  • W. E. Weber & K. F. Gauss construct the needle telegraph at Gottingen


  • Poe wins $50 prize for short story "Ms. Found in a Bottle"
  • Henry Longfellow publishes "Outre-Mer"
  • American Anti-Slavery Society founded in Philadelphia
  • Sir James Ross returns from second Arctic expedition (discovery of magnetic North Pole)


  • John Allan dies
  • Poe publishes "The Assignation"
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge dies
  • Invention of McCormick reaper
  • Whig Party founded


  • Poe accepts editor job with The Southern Literary Messenger, moves to Richmond, VA
  • Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) is born
  • Halley's comet re-appears


  • Poe marries Virginia
  • Poe writes many critical reviews
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson publishes Nature
  • Battle of Alamo


  • Poe leaves The Southern Literary Messenger, moves to New York City, but is unable to find work
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne publishes Twice-Told Tales; Ralph Waldo Emerson publishes The American Scholar; Charles Dickens publishes Oliver Twist
  • Financial panic begins seven year depression
  • Samuel Morse builds his first electro-magnetic telegraph
  • Queen Victoria ascends to British throne


  • Poe moves to Philadelphia
  • Poe publishes "Ligeia" and his only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym
  • Elizabeth Barrett (Browning) publishes The Seraphim and Other Poems
  • Steamships connect England and U.S.
  • The Daguerre-Niepce method of photography presented in Paris


  • Poe is editor of Burton's Gentlemen's Magazine
  • Poe publishes "Fall of the House of Usher" and "William Wilson"
  • Henry Longfellow publishes Hyperion and Voices of the Night
  • Liberty Party (abolitionist) founded
  • Charles Goodyear discovers "vulcanization" for processing rubber for commercial use
  • First baseball game played in Cooperstown, New York


  • Poe leaves Burton's Gentlemen's Magazine and plans his own journal
  • Poe publishes Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque
  • James F. Cooper publishes The Pathfinder; Charles Dickens publishes The Old Curiousity Shop
  • 2,816 miles of railroad in operation in U.S.
  • Cotton textiles become leading U.S. industry with 1,778,000 spindles and 75,000 workers
  • 207,381 people leave Ireland for U.S.


  • Poe becomes editor of Graham's Magazine
  • Poe publishes "Murders in the Rue Morgue"
  • James F. Cooper publishes The Deerslayer; Henry Longfellow publishes Ballads and Other Poems
  • Amistad Case
  • P.T. Barnum opens American Museum in New York
  • College degrees granted to women in the U.S.


  • Poe resigns from Graham's Magazine
  • Virginia becomes ill with tuberculosis
  • Poe publishes "The Mask of the Red Death," "The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Mystery of Marie Roget," and "The Oval Portrait"
  • Rufus Wilmot Griswold publishes Poets and Poetry of America; Henry Longfellow publishes Poems on Slavery; Charles Dickens publishes American Notes
  • Massachusetts passes a law limiting the length of time children can work each day: children under 12 are allowed to work only ten hours each day


  • Poe Moves to house on 7th Street in Spring Garden (now Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site)
  • Poe publishes The Prose Romances of Edgar A. Poe, "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Black Cat"
  • Poe wins prize for "The Goldbug"
  • Charles Dickens publishes A Christmas Carol
  • First telegraph line built in U.S. between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.


  • Poe moves to New York City, joins the staff of The Evening Mirror
  • Poe publishes "The Purloined Letter," "A Tale of the Ragged Mountains," "The Balloon Hoax," "The Premature Burial"
  • James Russell Lowell publishes Poems; Elizabeth Barrett (Browning) publishes Poems
  • The New York Hotel becomes the first U.S. establishment to offer private baths


  • Poe becomes editor and owner of The Broadway Journal for a few months
  • Poe publishes "The Raven" and The Raven and Other Poems
  • Frederick Douglass publishes Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave; Margaret Fuller publishes Woman in the Nineteenth Century
  • Texas annexed
  • "Manifest Destiny" coined
  • Knickerbocker Baseball Club codifies rules of baseball


  • Poe moves to Fordham (near New York City) after failure of The Broadway Journal
  • Herman Melville publishes Typee; Nathaniel Hawthorne publishes Mosses from an Old Manse
  • Mexican War begins
  • Elias Howe receives first patent for a sewing machine


  • Virginia dies
  • Poe publishes "Ulalume"
  • Notable births: Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson publishes Poems; Herman Melville publishes Omoo; Charlotte Bronte publishes Jane Eyre; Emily Bronte publishes Wuthering Heights


  • Poe becomes engaged to Sarah Helen Whitman
  • Poe gives lectures and publishes "The Poetic Principle" and "Eureka"
  • Thackeray publishes Vanity Fair; James Russell Lowell publishes The Biglow Papers
  • Mexican War ends
  • California "Gold Rush" begins
  • Pennsylvania outlaws the hiring of children under 12 in mills


  • Poe becomes engaged to Elmira Shelton
  • Poe dies in Baltimore
  • "Annabel Lee" and "The Bells" are published posthumously
  • Henry Thoreau publishes Civil Disobedience; Herman Melville publishes Mardi
  • Maryland slave Harriet Tubman escapes to the North along the Underground Railroad
  • Elizabeth Blackwell becomes the first female doctor in theU.S.
  • Armand Fizeau measures the velocity of light

Last updated: September 22, 2017

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