Edgar Poe was born into a new nation and a family of actors. National — and personal — identity were shifting things in 1809. Possibilities abounded. In time, Edgar would harness the drama that inspired his parents and the lore surrounding his ancestors to become one of the greats in American literature. But there was much for him to overcome. The early loss of both mother and father thrust Edgar into a foster family that irrevocably shaped the course of his life.