Updated: Mar 31, 2022
Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American essayist, poet, and transcendentalist, was born on May 25 in Boston, the United States of America to a clergyman, William Emerson, and Ruth Haskins Emerson. In 1812 Emerson joined Harvard College and learned Greek, Latin, History, and Rhetoric. He started writing journals in 1820. As a part of his travel to Europe around 1833, he met his contemporary idols Wordsworth, Coleridge, and J. S. Mill.
Emerson while working as a tutor wrote essays based on his speech. In 1836, he published his first book Nature, which insisted on people experiencing God and Nature. In 1841 he published his first set of essays which included Self-reliance, The Over-soul, Circles, and History, followed by the second set of essays including The Poet, Experience, Nominalist, and Realist. He wrote essays on Great Men like Plato, Montaigne, Goethe, and Napoleon, collectively called Representative Men. In 1860, he published another set of essays titled, The Conduct of Life
He is one of the foremost intellectual figures in America who helped found the “Transcendentalist Club” in 1836. The prominent members of the club were Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Alcott, and Elizabeth Peabody. His beliefs and idealism were strong influences on the young minds of America. He believed that modern thoughts are required for the new era. Authors like Jorge Luis Borges, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman were influenced by his writings and beliefs. After living for 78 years Emerson died of pneumonia on April 27, 1882.
· “Divinity School Address” is one of his famous speeches in which he spoke on his controversial ideas such as Transcendentalist views of individual power over religious doctrine.