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    Ralph Waldo Emerson

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    Ralph Waldo Emerson

    American essayist & poet
    12 Favorites on Read Print

    Biography

    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Most of his ancestors were clergymen as his father. He was educated in Boston and Harvard, like his father, and graduated in 1821. While at Harvad, he began keeping a journal, which became a source of his latwer lectures, essays, and books. In 1825 he began to study at the Harvard Divinity School and next year he was licensed to preach by the Middlesex Association of Ministers. In 1829 Emerson married the seventeen-year-old Ellen Louisa Tucker, who died in 1831 from tuberculosis. More ...

    Books by Ralph Waldo Emerson

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    Quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson

    • A friend is one before whom I may think aloud.
    • A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.
    • A man of genius is privileged only as far as he is genius. His dullness is as insupportable as any other dullness.
    • All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.
    • All our progress is an unfolding, like a vegetable bud. You have first an instinct, then an opinion, then a knowledge as the plant has root, bud, and fruit. Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.
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    Biography of Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Most of his ancestors were clergymen as his father. He was educated in Boston and Harvard, like his father, and graduated in 1821. While at Harvad, he began keeping a journal, which became a source of his latwer lectures, essays, and books. In 1825 he began to study at the Harvard Divinity School and next year he was licensed to preach by the Middlesex Association of Ministers. In 1829 Emerson married the seventeen-year-old Ellen Louisa Tucker, who died in 1831 from tuberculosis. Emerson's first and only settlement was at the important Second Unitarian Church of Boston, where he became sole pastor in 1830. Three years later he had a crisis of faith, finding that he "was not interested" in the rite of Communion. Her once remarked, that if his teachers had been aware of his true thoughts, they would not have allowed him to become a minister. Eventually Emerson's controversial views caused his resignation. However, he never ceased to be both teacher and preacher, although without the support of any concrete idea of God.

    Emerson traveled to Europe in 1832. He met William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Thomas Carlyle, whith whom he corresponded for half a century. Much later the English writer Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909) did not share the admiration which his countrymen had for Emerson - he called Emerson "a wrinkled baboon, a man first hoisted into notoriety on the shoulders of Carlyle, and who now spits and sputters on a filthier platform of his own finding and fouling." After returning to the United States, he lectured on natural history, biology, and history. In 1835 Emerson married Lydia Jackson and settled with her at the east end of the village of Concord, Massachusetts, where he then spent the rest of his life. Emerson's first book, NATURE, a collection of essays, appeared when he was 33 and summoned up his ideas. Emerson emphasized individualism and rejected traditional authority. He invited to "enjoy an original relation to the universe," and emphasized "the infinitude of the private man." All creation is one, he believed - people should try to live a simple life in harmony with nature and with others. "... the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God," he wrote in Nature. His lectures 'The American Scholar' (1837) and 'Address at Divinity College' (1838) challenged the Harvard intelligentsia and warned about a lifeless Christian tradition. He was ostracized by Harvad for many years, but his message attracted young disciples, who joined the informal Transcendental Club, organized in 1836 by the Unitarian clergyman F.H. Hedge.
    We hope you enjoyed reading this Ralph Waldo Emerson biography. If you think we left out some details about Emerson's life, email us!
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