Ralph Waldo Emerson was a famous philosopher and lecturer as well as one of the key figures in the transcendentalism movement. He was not afraid of expressing deep thoughts and adding humor to his poetry which made him stand out as a poet. The fact that his essays and books have been popular among people of different generations proves that Emerson’s ideas touch the hearts of many different people.
Born in May 1803 in the family of William Emerson and Ruth Haskins, he had as many as 8 siblings. Unfortunately, 3 of them died in infancy. After his father died in 1811, Emerson was left under the care of his aunt and mother. Since the family was unable to pay for his education at Harvard, he had to take different part-time jobs to earn the money he needed. At that time, none of the family could imagine that the boy would one day become one of the most prominent American essayists and lecturers.
Today we decided to gather and share with our readers 8 interesting facts that will help you learn more about Emerson’s life and personality.
Ralph Waldo Emerson: 8 interesting facts about one of the youngest Harvard students
1. Ralph Waldo Emerson was a brilliant student
In 1812, he started attending Boston Latin School. Since the very beginning of his education, his teachers characterized him as a young genius who quickly absorbed new information and developed skills. At the age of 14, encouraged and supported by his teachers, Emerson entered the Harvard University. An interesting fact about Ralph Waldo Emerson is that he stays one of the youngest students of Harvard University.
2. He was brought up surrounded by women
After the death of Emerson’s father, he was brought up by his mother and many aunts. It is right to say that his character and personality were shaped under the influence of strong women who placed a certain value on education. By the way, the family supported the idea of educating women which was not shared by many people living at that time.
After Emerson’s brother established a school for girls in their family school, Emerson started giving lessons at that school, spreading his knowledge and sharing his views and ideas with young women.
3. Emerson was influenced by the culture and philosophical ideas of Asia and Middle East
An interesting fact about Ralph Waldo Emerson is that he was interested in the philosophy and culture of Asia so much that he even called it his second wife. While studying at Harvard, he studied the works that described the peculiarities of Asian and Middle Eastern culture. The knowledge he acquired influenced his own philosophy, his views on life in general and his poetry.
After he became one of the key figures on the transcendentalism movement, he went on exploring his new way of thinking on the basis of Persian and Chinese texts. He also wasn’t shy to share his beliefs and thoughts with the students that came to his lectures. One of his biggest goals was to prove that the philosophies of truth were universal.
4. Ralph Emerson was one of the transcendentalism movement leaders
Even though Emerson studied at Harvard Divinity School and had a license that allowed him to preach, he lost the faith he had. In search of a new system of beliefs, he came across transcendentalism and found that the major principle of the movement coincided with one of his own beliefs. Transcendentalists believed that God lived within a person and that any person could speak to God directly without visiting a church.
5. He was a close friend of David Thoreau
Ralph Waldo Emerson and David Thoreau met each other in person for the first time in 1837. Even though the age-gap between the two was equal to 14 years, they enjoyed talking and sharing their ideas with each other. Thoreau saw no use in higher education, while Emerson believed that it was necessary. However, Emerson supported the preference of Thoreau to be as close to nature as possible while getting far away from the academic world.
Emerson often started talking with Thoreau about higher education for the sole purpose of annoying him and make the conversation they were having at the moment more intense.
6. Emerson had to move to Florida
Health problems and poor immune system made it impossible for Emerson to live in Boston that he left in 1826. He moved to Florida where he continued to write poetry and met Prince Achille Murat, a relative of Napoleon Bonaparte.
The two often discussed topics related to politics, religion and philosophy. Speaking about the influence of Prince Achille Murat on his life, Emerson stated that he contributed to his intellectual education.
7. Ralph Waldo Emerson was married twice
Emerson’s first wife was Ellen Tucker, whom he married at the age of 26. Unfortunately, their marriage lasted for only 2 years and was ended when Ellen died of tuberculosis. Writing and poetry was Emerson’s method of releasing the sadness he felt after losing his spouse.
Ralph Emerson proposed to Lidian Jackson via letters and married her in September 1835. After the wedding, the couple moved to Concord where Emerson had built a house for his family. The couple had 4 children, with their elder daughter being named in honor of Emerson’s first wife.
8. His lectures were popular
Believe it or not, but throughout his life, he gave 1500 lectures, an interesting fact about Ralph Waldo Emerson. Apart from giving lectures on philosophy and history at the demand of different universities and organizations, Emerson gave series of his own lectures that brought him more profits and laid the foundation for his career as a lecturer. His lectures were so popular that he often had to travel to different cities of America.
After the fire that destroyed his home in 1872, Emerson made a decision to stop travelling the country and giving lectures. While the house was being rebuilt, he travelled to England, Europe and Egypt together with his daughter Ellen.
Starting from 1879, Emerson tried to appear in public as rarely as possible because he had memory problems and often couldn’t remember the words that he needed to express his thoughts. He died of pneumonia in April 1882.
We hope that the information we shared with you today sparked your interest in the personality of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
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