Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Ralph Waldo Emerson

Birthplace: Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States
Death: April 27, 1882 (78)
Concord, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States (Pneumonia)
Place of Burial: Concord, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Rev. William Emerson and Ruth Emerson
Husband of Ellen Louisa Emerson and Lydia Emerson
Father of Waldo Emerson; Ellen Tucker Emerson; Edith Ellen Forbes and Edward Waldo Emerson
Brother of Phebe Ripley Emerson; John Clark Emerson; William Emerson; Edward Bliss Emerson; Robert Bulkley Emerson and 4 others

Occupation: Famous Poet, American Author, The poet, American Philosopher/ Poet, Poet, writer, Philosopher, essayist, poet
Managed by: Ivy Jo Smith
Last Updated:

About Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.

Emerson gradually moved away from the religious and social beliefs of his contemporaries, formulating and expressing the philosophy of transcendentalism in his 1836 essay "Nature". Following this work, he gave a speech entitled "The American Scholar" in 1837, which Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. considered to be America's "intellectual Declaration of Independence".

Emerson wrote most of his important essays as lectures first and then revised them for print. His first two collections of essays, Essays: First Series (1841) and Essays: Second Series (1844), represent the core of his thinking. They include the well-known essays "Self-Reliance", "The Over-Soul", "Circles", "The Poet" and "Experience". Together with "Nature", these essays made the decade from the mid-1830s to the mid-1840s Emerson's most fertile period. Emerson wrote on a number of subjects, never espousing fixed philosophical tenets, but developing certain ideas such as individuality, freedom, the ability for mankind to realize almost anything, and the relationship between the soul and the surrounding world. Emerson's "nature" was more philosophical than naturalistic: "Philosophically considered, the universe is composed of Nature and the Soul". Emerson is one of several figures who "took a more pantheist or pandeist approach by rejecting views of God as separate from the world."

He remains among the linchpins of the American romantic movement, and his work has greatly influenced the thinkers, writers and poets that followed him. When asked to sum up his work, he said his central doctrine was "the infinitude of the private man." Emerson is also well known as a mentor and friend of Henry David Thoreau, a fellow transcendentalist.

American author, poet, and philosopher. Ralph Waldo Emerson first formulated the philosophy of Transcendentalism. His essay "Nature" expresses this philosophy. He also wrote "The Concord Hymn" and coined the phrase "the shot heard round the world." Emerson was an ardent abolitionist.

(Ralph was descended from an entirely female line. He carried the mitochondrial DNA of Mayflower passenger Elizabeth Tilley).

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Ralph Waldo Emerson's Timeline

May 25, 1803
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States
October 30, 1836
Concord, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States
February 24, 1839
November 22, 1841
Concord, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States
July 10, 1844
Concord, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States
Age 56
Concord, Middlesex, Massachusetts
April 27, 1882
Age 78
Concord, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States