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Ralph Waldo Emerson, An American Poet

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Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American poet and prose writer, born at Boston, 25th May, 1803, died 27th April, 1882. He graduated at Harvard in 1821, for five years taught in a school, and in 1829 became minister of a Unitarian Church in Boston, but in 1832 resigned his charge. He spent the greater part of 1833 in Europe, and on his return began his career as a lecturer on various subjects, in which capacity he acted for a long series of years. In 1835 he took up his permanent residence at Concord, Mass., and in 1836 published a small volume called Nature. He was one of the original editors of The Dial, a transcendental magazine begun in 1840. Two volumes of his essays were published, in 1841 and 1844, and his poems in 1846. His miscellaneous addresses had been published in England in 1844, and on visiting Great Britain in 1847 he was welcomed by a large circle of admirers. In 1850 he published Representative Men; in 1856, English Traits; in 1860, The Conduct of Life; in 1869, May Day and Other Poems, and Society and Solitude; in 1871, Parnassus, a collection of poems; in 1876, Letters and Social Aims. Emerson showed certain similarities with Carlyle, of whom he was a friend and correspondent. Their correspondence appeared in 1883. He was not only one of the most original and influential writers that the United States have produced, but also one of the most helpful and influential ethical teachers of the nineteenth century. His gospel of self-reliance, his insistence on the duty of self-respect, and the obligation to listen to the voice of one's own soul, have exerted a wide influence which has grown steadily.—Bibliography: J. E. Cabot, Emerson's Complete Works (11 vols.); G. W. Cooke, Ralph Waldo Emerson: his Life, Writings and Philosophy; J. Elliott Cabot, A Memoir of Ralph Waldo Emerson; R. Garnett, Life of Ralph Waldo Emerson; G. S. Woodberry, Ralph Waldo Emerson; J. A. Hill, Emerson and his Philosophy.


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