Emerson was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Emerson graduated from Harvard University at the age of 18 and for the next three years taught school in Boston. In 1825 he entered Harvard Divinity School, and the next year he was certified to preach by the Middlesex Association of Ministers. Even with ill health, Emerson delivered occasional lecture in churches in the Boston area. In 1829 he became minister of the Second Church (Unitarian) of Boston. That same year he married Ellen Tucker, who died 17 months later.

On Christmas Day, 1832, he left the United States for a tour of Europe. He stayed for some time in England, where he made the associate of such British literary notables as Walter Savage Landor, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas Carlyle, and William Wordsworth. His meeting with Carlyle marked the beginning of a lifelong friendship. On his return to the United States in 1833, Emerson settled in Concord, Massachusetts, and became active as a lecturer in Boston. His lectures including "The Philosophy of History,"Human Culture,"Human Life," and "The Present Age" were based on material in his Journals (published posthumously, 1909-1914), a collection of comments and notes that he had begun while a student at Harvard.

Emerson applied these ideas to cultural and logical problems in his 1837 lecture "The American Scholar," which he delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Harvard. In it he called for American intellectual independence. A second address, commonly referred to as the "Address at Divinity College," delivered in 1838 to the graduating class of Cambridge Divinity College, produce great controversy because it attacked formal religion and argued for self-reliance and unconscious spiritual experience. The first volume of Emerson's Essays (1841) includes some of his most popular works.

It contains History, Self-Reliance, Compensation, Spiritual Laws, Love, Friendship, Prudence, Heroism, The Over-Soul, Circles, Intellect, and Art. The second series of Essays (1844) includes "The Poet,"Manners," and "Character." In it Emerson tempered the hopefulness of the first volume of essays, placing less importance on the self and acknowledging the limitations of real life. Emerson succeeded her as editor in 1842 and remained in that capacity until the journal ceased publication in 1844. In 1846 his first volume of Poems was published (dated, however, 1847).

Emerson again went abroad from 1847 to 1848 and lectured in England, where he was welcomed by Carlyle. Several of Emerson's lectures were later collected in the volume representative men (1850), which contains essays on such figures as Greek philosopher Plato, Swedish philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg, and French writer Michel Ey quem de Montaigne. While visiting abroad, Emerson also gathered impressions that were later published in English Traits (1856), a study of English society. The Conduct of Life (1860) was the first of his books to enjoy immediate popularity. Included in this volume of essays are "Power,"Wealth,"Fate," and "Culture." This was followed by a collection of poems entitled May Day and Other Pieces (1867), which had previously been published in The Dial and The Atlantic Monthly.

After this time Emerson did little writing and his mental powers declined, although his reputation as a writer spread. His later works include Society and Solitude (1870), which contained material he had been using on lecture tours; Parnassus (1874), a collection of poems; Letters and Social Aims (1876); and Natural History Intellect (1893). He died of pneumonia on the 27 th of April, 1882 at the very end of his seventy-eighth year. web of ralph waldo emerson. htm.