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Edgar Allen Poe

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Edgar was then taken in, though not formally adopted, by John and Francis Allan, who were charmed by the young lad and spoiled him terribly. Edgar indeed acquired at this very early age mastership of his own will (just as the narrator of "William Wilson" had told it). John Allan was a self-righteous, Scotch immigrant who set about providing Edgar with the fine education that he himself had been denied. Francis was a slight, high-spirited woman, herself an adopted orphan, reputed to have been accident prone and subject to illnesses. When John Allan's business interests required relocating in London, (Summer, 1815) the Allans took Edgar to England with them where he first boarded with the Misses Dubourg, the family of a clerk of Allan and Ellis. Next, at ages eight and nine, Edgar boarded at the school of John Bransby, the Manor House School at Stoke Newington (called Dr. Bransby's Academy in "William Wilson"). Again, providing Edgar with what he resented having been denied, Allan allowed the boy what Dr. Bransby considered extravagant pocket money and was proud of his young prodigy's academic progress. Several letters attest to this pride. One November, 1819 letter to Allan's uncle calls Edgar "a verry [sic] fine Boy and a good scholar." (Quinn 79)

Nevertheless, John Allan's methods in child rearing left much to be desired. For example, though Edgar yearned to be close to the family, between the lad's tenures at boarding schools and the interposing hiates of paternal neglect, Edgar's destiny became little more than Allan's charitable Duty. Materially, the boy did not lack, but his more immediate needs--especially of the nurturing kind, were shuffled aside. Even this early in his life, denial of the closer attentions he sought from the Allans only served to reinforce his despondent and sulky disposition. Add to this the lad's growing awareness that John Allan had not admitted him to his family. Sadly, charitable duty would be all Edgar could expect.

In addition, Francis Allan, Fanny as she was called, though young Edgar's champion, was seldom available for him since he was often away at school. Fanny's illnesses and her own periodic absences, if anything, contributed to Edgar's insecurities. All of the the decisions of boarding and education were left to her husband, and Fanny's continual bouts with various maladies cannot have reassured Edgar against losing yet another parent.



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