Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Most of his ancestors were clergymen as his father, who died when Emerson was eight. He waseducated in Boston and Harvard, like his father, and graduated in 1821. While at Harvad, he began keeping a journal, which became a source of his later lectures, essays, and books. In 1825 he beganto study at the Harvard Divinity School and next year he was licensed to preach by the Middlesex Association of Ministers. In 1829 Emerson married the seventeen-year-old Ellen Louisa Tucker, who diedin 1831 from tuberculosis. She had been young and pretty, and in March 1832, Emerson opened her coffin, a year and two months after her burial, just to see her. In his own journal he wrote: "I visitedEllen's tomb and opened the coffin."
Emerson's first and only settlement was at the important Second Unitarian Church of Boston, where he became sole pastor in 1830. Three years later he had acrisis of faith, and resigned
Emerson went on a lecture tour in Europe in 1848. A letter to a London newspaper requested lowering the admission price so that the poorer people could attend, for "to misshim is to lose an important part of the Nineteenth Century." The English writer Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909) did not share the admiration which his countrymen had for Emerson – he calledEmerson "a wrinkled baboon, a man first hoisted into notoriety on the shoulders of Carlyle, and who now spits and sputters on a filthier platform of his own finding and fouling." Upon his return to theUnited States, Emerson lectured on natural history, biology, and history.
Like Wordsworth, Emerson drew inspiration from Nature. His first book, Nature, a collection of essays, came out when he was...