Ralph Waldo Emerson is considered one of the most influential writers and thinkers of the 1800s. He was an American poet, essayist, and lecturer who was born in Boston, Massachusetts on May 25, 1803.
He started studying at Harvard at the age of fourteen. From there he became a teacher. He was also a Unitarian minister for a period of time. When his first wife, nineteen-year-old Ellen Louisa Tucker, died from tuberculosis, he stepped down from his role as a minister.
"Thoughts on the Religion of the Middle Ages," was Emerson's first publication. It was an article published in November of 1822. From then on, he continued writing essays and poetry.
Emerson became the leader of the Transcendentalism movement that swept through the United States during the 1800s. Transcendentalism was a belief that focused on being self-reliant. It encouraged people to focus on themselves rather than the constructs of society like religion and politics. Emerson's motto was, "Trust thyself." The instincts of each individual person were seen as more important than what a society tried to dictate. Emerson's essay, Nature (1836), strongly expressed this belief.
A collection of poems simply titled Poems was published in both the United States and England in 1846.
Ralph Waldo Emerson passed away April 27, 1882.
Interesting facts about Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Emerson taught at a grammar school part time to earn money while he studied at Harvard.
- His father was also a Unitarian minister.
- He inspired Henry David Thoreau to keep a journal.
- He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Harvard.
- Emerson spoke against slavery.
- He shared with his audience the ways of thinking that were found in Asia and the Middle East.
- His first daughter was named after his first wife.
- Emerson had seven siblings.
- One of Emerson's quotes was, "Every artist was first an amateur."
- Emerson was considered an optimist.