Edgar Allan Poe
In 1827, Poe enlisted in the U.S. Army under the name "Edgar A. Perry." He did well as a soldier, rising to the rank of sergeant major. He also continued to write. A book of his poetry was published anonymously (the author being listed only as "A Bostonian"). In April 1829, he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. A few months later, he published his second book of poetry, Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems.
Poe soon realized that West Point wasn't for him. He decided to get himself kicked out of school, which he successfully accomplished by refusing to attend chapel or classes. He was court-martialed and dismissed. "The army does not suit a poor man — so I left W. Point abruptly," he later wrote, "and threw myself upon literature as a resource. I became first known to the literary world thus."7 Poe published several anonymous short stories plus another book of poems. Almost immediately after he left West Point, his brother Henry died of tuberculosis.
Poe began (and finished) his career as a starving writer. Though John Allan had remarried a wealthy woman, he refused to support his foster son, who was constantly asking for money. "It has now been more than two years since you have assisted me, and more than three since you have spoken to me," Poe wrote in his final letter to his foster father in 1833. "If you will only consider in what a situation I am placed you will surely pity me — without friends, without any means, consequently of obtaining employment, I am perishing — absolutely perishing for want of aid. . . . For God's sake pity me, and save me from destruction."8 John Allan did not respond. And when he died on 27 March 1834, Allan omitted his adopted son from his will entirely.