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Ralph Waldo Emerson

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“Ralph Waldo Emerson”

“That book is good which puts me in a working mood.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “The Poet” Born on May 25, 1803, Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of the best essayists and poets of the 1800’s. He had works that were famous, and a few that were infamous at the time, such as his book “Nature” in which he vividly paints details of Transcendentalism. Emerson had many controversial views, such as his views as a Transcendentalist. He quietly died at the old age 78 of in Concord, Massachusetts.

Emerson was born in Boston Massachusetts on May 25, 1803. He was born to Ruth Haskins and the Rev. William Emerson, a Unitarian minister. He was the second child out of five that made it to adulthood, with two sisters and a brother who died before eighteen. As a middle child, Ralph was always adequate in his learnings. The only person who truly believed he could do something better with his life was his aunt, Mary Moody Emerson. The two grew even closer after Ralph’s father died of tuberculosis on May 12, 1811, less that two weeks before his eighth birthday. During his senior year at Boston Latin school, he decided to start going by his middle name, Waldo. He served as Class Poet, but his poem was adequate. He was not the best in school, and graduated in the exact middle of his class of fifty-nine students. In 1826, Emerson’s health turned for the worst, so he traveled south to find a warmer climate. He ended up in St.Augustine, Florida and constantly took long walks on the beach and wrote poetry.

After Harvard, Emerson became a schoolmaster for two years to aid his brother William, then he enrolling in Harvard Divinity School. During his time there, his brother, Edward, died of longstanding tuberculosis. Then, in 1836 another of his bright and promising brothers, Charles, also died of tuberculosis. Emerson met his first wife, Ellen Louisa Tucker, in 1827. They married when she was eighteen. When married, Ellen was already ill with tuberculosis, and died about two years later on February 8, 1831. Emerson was drastically affected by her death and visited her grave every day. They had no children together. Boston’s second church invited Emerson to become a junior pastor, and he accepted. Following his wife's death, though, he began to doubt his own beliefs and he constantly argued with the church officials. “He was unsatisfied with the Communion and the method of worship. To Emerson it seemed too dry” (Source 8). He resigned from ministry in 1832. In 1833, he began to pursue a career as a lecturer. On November 5, 1833, he made the first of what would eventually be some 1,500 lectures, "The Uses of Natural History", in Boston. In this lecture, he set out some of his important beliefs and the ideas he would later develop in his first published essay, "Nature.” On January 24, 1835, Emerson wrote a letter to Lydia Jackson proposing marriage. She accepted it on the 28th. In July 1835, he bought a house on the Cambridge and Concord Turnpike in Concord, Massachusetts, which he named Bush. Emerson quickly became one of the top citizens in the town. On September 14, 1835, he married Lydia Jackson in her hometown of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and they moved to the new house in Concord together with Emerson's mother on September 15.Emerson changed his wife's name to Lidian, and would call her Queenie, and sometimes Asia. She called him Mr. Emerson. Their children were Waldo, Ellen, Edith, and Edward Waldo Emerson. Ellen was named for his first wife, at Lidian's suggestion. Emerson was poor when he was at Harvard, and later supported his family for much of his life. He inherited a fair amount of money after his first wife's death, though he had to file a lawsuit against the Tucker family in 1836 to get it He received $11,600 on May 1834, and a further $11,674.49 in July 1837. In 1834, he considered that he had an income of $1,200 a year from the initial payment of the estate, equivalent to what he had earned as a pastor.

On September 8, 1836, the day before the publication of Nature, Emerson met with some people to plan periodic gatherings of other like-minded intellectuals. This was the beginning of the Transcendental Club, which served as a center for the movement. Its first official meeting was held on September 19, 1836. On September 1, 1837, women attended a meeting of the Transcendental Club for the first time. Emerson had invited Margaret Fuller and two other women for dinner at his home before



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