Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston, Massachusetts on the 25th of May, 1803 to his mother, Ruth Haskins, and his father Rev. William Emerson. Emerson’s father died at an early age, and he was raised by his mother as well as his Aunt Mary Emerson, who became a big influence in his life. In his younger years, Emerson attended the Boston Latin School at the age of nine, and then Harvard College at the early age of fourteen. After graduating from Harvard in 1821 at eighteen, Emerson started a school for young women with his brother, and he made his living as a school teacher for the next several years. Emerson’s brother, William, originally attended Divinity School to become a minister like their father, but abandoned that route and decided to study law instead. It was at this time that Emerson’s Aunt Mary Emerson came to him and convinced him to attend Divinity School saying, “There was always meant to be a Reverend Emerson in Boston” (Seavey 3).
After attending Harvard Divinity School, Emerson was ordained in March of 1829 and served as an assistant minister at Boston’s Second Church. Shortly thereafter, Emerson married his first wife, Ellen Tucker, a marriage that lasted only two short years before Ellen died of tuberculosis in 1831. Emerson did not handle his wife’s death very well, and soon after he began disagreeing with certain practices of the church which led to his personal statement, “This mode of commemorating Christ is not suitable to me. That is reason enough why I should abandon it” (Packer 39).
In 1836, Emerson helped found the Transcendental Club, and published his first essay “Nature,” later that year. It was this essay, as well as his Phi Beta Kappa Address, “The American Scholar,” and his Harvard “Divinity School Address” that began Emerson’s career in literature. Around this time, he married his second wife, Lydia Jackson, in Massachusetts, with whom he had four children. After years of working as the editor to the... [continues]
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