Edgar Allan Poe had a difficult childhood. Alone much of the time, he wrote a poem about growing-up very differently than other children. Some of the words, from that poem, are superimposed here on the art of Jeremiah D. Morelli, a middle-school teacher and artist from Germany. Image copyright, Jeremiah Morelli, all rights reserved. Image provided here as fair use for educational purposes and to acquaint new viewers with his art.


Edgar Allan Poe met sorrow and death at a young age.  They became two of his main traveling companions throughout his life's journey.

One of three children, Edgar Poe was born in a Boston house on the 19th of January, 1809.  He did not have his middle name at birth.  That came later, after his parents died and he was placed in a foster home.

At a time when acting was not a respected profession, Poe's parents were actors.  David Poe, Jr. - poor and destitute - abandoned his young family when Edgar was a baby.  Elizabeth, an actress known to audiences as "an enchanting creature," was left to manage her unenchanted life the best she could.

While living in Richmond, Virginia - when her son was not-yet-three - Eliza (as she was known) began to cough-up blood.  Soon her health was overwhelmed by the ravages of tuberculosis (then known as "consumption," one of the "most dreaded diseases of the 19th century").  It was hard for her small children to watch their mother succumb to what became a fatal illness.

Three young Poes were now without parents.  Frances ("Fanny") Allan, a childless woman who had been fond of Elizabeth, agreed to care for Edgar.  His siblings (Henry and Rosalie) went to separate families.

Separation thereby joined sorrow and death as another of Edgar's lifelong companions.

John Allan, Fanny's husband, believed young Eddy needed a good education - but - he was unwilling to adopt Poe.  He gave the lad a middle name but rejected the idea of formally calling Poe his son. 

Rejection thus joined separation, sorrow and death as another member of Poe's emotional reference points.  Wherever Eddy went, for the rest of his life, those four traveling companions were frequently in view.

Frances Allan showered her young foster son with affection, but John Allan remained tough and blunt.  Not a kind man, even to his wife, he had numerous affairs - within his own home - after Frances also became ill with TB.

Later in life, when Edgar reflected on his childhood years, he wrote these words in a poem he called "Alone." 

From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were - I have not seen
As others saw - I could not bring
My passions from a common spring -
From the same source I have not taken                
My sorrow - I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone -
And all I lov'd - I lov'd alone -

He "lov'd alone" because he was left alone.  Abandoned by his father, orphaned by his mother and left in a troubled state by Frances Allan - who also died of consumption - Poe's childhood was neither completely secure nor happy.

Those facts would have lifelong consequences for him.

0 Question or Comment?
click to read or comment
3 Questions 2 Ponder
click to read and respond
0 It's Awesome!
vote for your favorite

Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: May 01, 2012

Updated Last Revision: Dec 04, 2019

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

""CHILDHOOD'S HOUR"" AwesomeStories.com. May 01, 2012. Jan 21, 2020.
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Show tooltips