Edgar Allan Poe was a 19th century author and poet, best known for his Gothic short stories and mysteries, including the "Cask of Amontillado" and "The Purloined Letter". Poe was born in Boston and lost both of his parents in the first few years of his life. He was taken in by John Allan, a Virginian merchant from Scotland who gave Poe his middle name. After attending school in London, England for some time, the family moved back to Virginia where Poe pursued his post secondary education.
Despite his wealth, Allan would not finance Poe's college education and the future writer decided to join the United States Army to support himself. Meanwhile, Poe began writing, releasing his first book in his early twenties. Eventually, Poe decided to try to pursue writing as a full-time career. He received numerous rejections until he won a contest for the short story "Manuscript Found in a Bottle", which landed him a job as an editor. Poe continued to struggle financially, holding editor positions at various magazines that did not pay well despite Poe's ability to vastly increase their circulation. The author was a recognized literary critic, but he never achieved financial success. In 1849, Poe was discovered on the streets of Baltimore delirious and in need of immediate medical attention. He died later the next morning and was never able to explain how he got into his dire condition.
If you're looking for some of Poe's best work, The Best of Edgar Allan Poe, available as an audio download, contains some of his most notable poems and stories. Another collection, The Fall of the House of Usher & The Pit and the Pendulum, consists of two of his most famous stories of the macabre along with a number of other short stories. The Dupin Stories will be of interest if you're looking for a good Poe detective story and is available as an audio CD or MP3 download.