After a brief view of Edgar Allan Poe's family background, his grandfather, David Poe, Sr., an Irish immigrant to America, and his father, David Poe, Jr., the poet's life is depicted from the death of his mother and his subsequent adoption by John Allan, to his own tortured death in 1849. Expelled from the University of Virginia for incurring too many debts, Poe nonetheless courts and marries Virginia Clemm but is disowned by his foster father. While residing in Fordham, New York, Poe tries to earn a living as a writer but meets with little financial success. Overwhelmed by their impoverished state, Virginia dies and Poe sinks into a profound depression. Always a victim of alcohol and subject to hallucinations, Poe first imagines that his neighbor, Helen Whitman, is Virginia, then plunges himself into an elaborate delusion in which his wife's spirit, various other spectres and a raven finally drive him to his own death.