Everyone with an interest in the literature of the gothic, mysterious and macabre will be aware of the fiction, poetry and literary criticism of American author Edgar Allan Poe. He was an enigmatic figure whose life has become as intriguing as his fictional creations, and such is the quality of his work that he justifiably has a place among America's greatest literary figures. Poe published his first book of poetry in 1827 at the age of 22, while serving in the United States Army. He went on to become the first American to attempt to live solely from his income as a writer, and his life was financially difficult as a result. He remains an enduring master of the horror story, a major influence on the development of science fiction and is widely accepted as the originator of detective fiction.