Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Category : Writer
- Type : MGE
- Profile : 4/6 - Opportunistic / Role Model
- Definition : Split - Small (23)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX The Sleeping Phoenix 2
American writer, essayist, poet and leading figure in American literature during the mid-19th century, whose first work "Nature" was published in Boston in 1836. He left hundreds of private journals, raw material of his lectures, essays, poems, six volumes of letters and "The Works of Emerson," a compendium of essays and speeches which was published in 1903. He was a Unitarian minister from 1826-1832, deeply spiritual yet independent .
Emerson had a difficult early life. His father died when he was eight years old, leaving young Waldo with his mother and siblings to the generosity of their church and a boardinghouse income. His sister, Mary Caroline, died in 1814, and one of his brothers, Robert, was mentally incompetent, requiring institutional care. The family lived in a poor section of Boston, where Emerson went to school often without a coat in winter. But nonetheless he received a solid classical education and entered Harvard in 1817 on scholarship at the age of 14. He received his degree in 1821.
He followed his father's example and prepared for the ministry, being ordained in 1826. After the death of his first wife in 1831, Emerson resigned his ministry post, and sailed for Europe on 12/25/1832.
In Europe, he met Coleridge, Wordsworth and Thomas Carlyle and began work on his first book, "Nature." He then returned to America to settle permanently in Concord. He began a career as a lecturer in 1833 with a series entitled "The Uses of Natural History." The mid-19th century found Emerson lecturing, publishing and becoming a major force in American letters. He began lecturing in 1833 and continued until 1872.
Emerson's first marriage was in 1829 to the frail Ellen Tucker, who died of tuberculosis in 1831. After his return from Europe, he settled in Concord and married Lydia Jackson. They had four children. His first child, Waldo Jr., died of scarlet fever at age five. He had three more children, Ellen, Edith and Edward.
Emerson's health was not good. He needed a series of eye operations beginning in 1825. He also suffered from consumption. He died of pneumonia on 4/27/1882, 8:50 PM in Concord, MA.
He was elected to the Hall of Fame for Great Americans in 1900.