Many will remember studying the works of Edgar Allan Poe in school, specifically the eerie but captivating poem 'The Raven' which featured on many an English curriculum.

However what people may not know is that the prolific writer and poet has a fascinating link with Irvine – having been raised by an Irvine man and spending years of his life living and being educated in the town.

Irvine Times: Kirkgate Grammar School.Kirkgate Grammar School.

Today, to mark his birthday, The North Ayrshire Heritage Centre in Saltcoats has detailed how the American literary figure was fostered and raised by John Allan, an Irvine-born tobacco merchant of Richmond, Virginia, and his wife Frances.

In 1815, the family returned to Irvine to visit relatives and Edgar came with them. He stayed with John’s sister Mary Galt at Bridgegate House and attended the Kirkgate Grammar School.

Irvine Times: Bridgegate, Irvine where Edgar stayed with John Allan's sister Mary.Bridgegate, Irvine where Edgar stayed with John Allan's sister Mary.

It is said that Edgar often played in the churchyard of Irvine Parish Church and even paid a visit to the Isle of Arran on his travels – prompting suspicions that the Ayrshire surroundings may have had an influence on his writings in years to come.

He stayed in Irvine for a while longer before joining the Allan’s in London, attending boarding school in Chelsea in 1817 before eventually returning to the US in 1820.

Irvine Times: The Irvine Parish Church and graveyard.The Irvine Parish Church and graveyard.

Edgar died in Baltimore in October 1849, aged 40, after being found wandering the streets in a delirious state. Sadly, his cause of death remains unknown as all his medical records, including his death certificate, were lost.

Despite the difficulties he faced in his life, Poe remains one of the most influential figures in the American literary canon, but could it have been partly down to his years spent galavanting in an old spooky churchyard in Irvine?

To find out more about Poe’s life and his connection to Irvine, visit The North Ayrshire Heritage Centre on Facebook