Poe finally was discharged on April 15, 1829 after securing a replacement to finish his enlisted term for him. Before entering West Point, Poe moved back to Baltimore for a time, to stay with his widowed aunt Maria Clemm, her daughter, Virginia Eliza Clemm (Poe's first cousin), his brother Henry, and his invalid grandmother Elizabeth Cairnes Poe. Meanwhile, Poe published his second book, Al Aaraaf Tamerlane and Minor Poems, in Baltimore in 1829.
Poe traveled to West Point and matriculated as a cadet on July 1, 1830. In October 1830, John Allan married his second wife, Louisa Patterson. The marriage, and bitter quarrels with Poe over the children born to Allan out of affairs, led to the foster father finally disowning Poe. Poe decided to leave West Point by purposely getting court-martialed. On February 8, 1831, he was tried for gross neglect of duty and disobedience of orders for refusing to attend formations, classes, or church. Poe tactically pled not guilty to induce dismissal, knowing he would be found guilty.
He left for New York in February 1831, and released a third volume of poems, simply titled Poems. The book was financed with help from his fellow cadets at West Point, many of whom donated 75 cents to the cause, raising a total of $170. They may have been expecting verses similar to the satirical ones Poe had been writing about commanding officers. Printed by Elam Bliss of New York, it was labeled as "Second Edition" and included a page saying, "To the U.S. Corps of Cadets this volume is respectfully dedicated." The book once again reprinted the long poems "Tamerlane" and "Al Aaraaf" but also six previously unpublished poems including early versions of "To Helen", "Israfel", and "The City in the Sea". He returned to Baltimore, to his aunt, brother and cousin, in March 1831. Henry, who had been in ill health in part due to problems with alcoholism, died on August 1, 1831.
After his brother's death, Poe began more earnest attempts to start his career as a writer. He chose a difficult time in American publishing to do so. He was the first American to try to live by writing alone and was hampered by the lack of an international copyright law. Publishers often pirated copies of British works rather than paying for new work by Americans. The industry was also particularly hurt by the Panic of 1837, Despite a booming growth in American periodicals around this time period, fueled in part by new technology, many did not last beyond a few issues and publishers often refused to pay their writers or paid them much later than they promised. As Poe began his literary career, he would soon be forced to constantly make humiliating pleas for money and other assistance for the rest of his life.
Poe married his 13-year old cousin Virginia Clemm. Her early death may have inspired some of his writing.
After his early attempts at poetry, Poe had turned his attention to prose . He placed a few stories with a Philadelphia publication and began work on his only drama, Politian. The Saturday Visitor, a Baltimore paper, awarded Poe a prize in October 1833 for his short story "MS. Found in a Bottle". The story brought him to the attention of John P. Kennedy, a Baltimorian of considerable means. He helped Poe place some of his stories, and also introduced him to Thomas W. White, editor of the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond. Poe became assistant editor of the periodical in August 1835. Within a few weeks, he was discharged after being found drunk repeatedly. Returning to Baltimore, Poe secretly married Virginia, his cousin, on September 22, 1835. She was 13 at the time, though she is listed on the marriage certificate as being 21. Reinstated by White after promising good behavior, Poe went back to Richmond with Virginia and her mother. He remained at the Messenger until January 1837. During this period, its circulation increased from 700 to 3500. He published several poems, book reviews, criticism, and stories in the paper. On May 16, 1836, he had a second marriage in Richmond with Virginia Clemm, this time in public.
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym was published and widely reviewed in 1838. In the summer of 1839, Poe became assistant editor of Burton's Gentleman's Magazine. He published a large number of articles, stories, and reviews, enhancing the reputation as a trenchant critic that he had established at the Southern Literary Messenger. Also in 1839, the collection Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque was published in two volumes, though he made little money off of it and it received mixed reviews. Poe left Burton's after about a year and found a position as assistant at Graham's Magazine.
In June 1840, Poe published a prospectus announcing his intentions to start his own journal, The Stylus. Originally, Poe intended to call the journal The Penn, as it would have been based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the June 6, 1840 issue of Philadelphia's Saturday Evening Post, Poe purchased advertising space for his prospectus: "Prospectus of the Penn Magazine, a Monthly Literary journal to be edited and published in the city of Philadelphia by Edgar A. Poe." The journal would never be produced before Poe's death.
One evening in January 1842, Virginia showed the first signs of consumption, now known as tuberculosis, while singing and playing the piano. Poe described it as breaking a blood vessel in her throat. She only partially recovered. Poe began to drink more heavily under the stress of Virginia's illness. He left Graham's and attempted to find a new position, for a time angling for a government post. He returned to New York, where he worked briefly at the Evening Mirror before becoming editor of the Broadway Journal and, later, sole owner. There he alienated himself from other writers by publicly accusing Henry Wadsworth Longfellow of plagiarism, though Longfellow never responded. On January 29, 1845, his poem"The Raven" appeared in the Evening Mirror and became a popular sensation. Though it made Poe a household name almost instantly, he only was paid $9 for its publication.
Poe spent the last few years of his life in a small cottage in the Bronx, New York.
The Broadway Journal failed in 1846. Poe moved to a cottage in the Fordham section of The Bronx, New York. That home, known today as the "Poe Cottage", is on the southeast corner of the Grand Concourse and Kingsbridge Road. Virginia died there on January 30, 1847. Biographers and critics often suggest Poe's frequent theme of the "death of a beautiful woman" stems from the repeated loss of women throughout his life, including his wife.
Increasingly unstable after his wife's death, Poe attempted to court the poet Sarah Helen Whitman, who lived in Providence, Rhode Island. Their engagement failed, purportedly because of Poe's drinking and erratic behavior. However, there is also strong evidence that Whitman's mother intervened and did much to derail their relationship. Poe then returned to Richmond and resumed a relationship with a childhood sweetheart, Sarah Elmira Royster.
Edgar Allan Poe is buried in Baltimore, Maryland. The circumstances of his death are very mysterious and the true cause is uncertain.