Many say the Edgar Allen Poe is the grandfather of horror. It's hard to disagree with the statement. There were been horror stories written before him, but he's the one who formed the genre (also along with the detective genre). It's hard to imagine there being a serious form of horror literature without him.
Poe's work should be studied not only for their effective creep factor but for the prose. His work is like no other. It's a shame his life was full of such great anguish and was taragically cut short. One can only imagine the amazing tales he had yet to spin.
My favorite tales by the author include "The Fall of the House of Usher", "The Pit and the Pendelum", and "The Raven". If you've never read any of Poe's work, then you are certainly missing out on greatness.
Check out Poestories.com and The Poe Museum and
Edgar Allen Poe Society of Baltimore for more information about the author.