Who was Ralph Waldo Emerson?
A: Ralph Waldo Emerson who went by his middle name Waldo, was an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, abolitionist, and poet.
He led what movement of the mid-19th century?
A: The transcendentalist.
He was seen as a champion of what?
He was a prescient critic of the countervailing
pressures of society, and his ideology was disseminated through dozens of
A: Published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.
Emerson gradually moved away from the religious and
social beliefs of his contemporaries, formulating, and expressing what?
A: The philosophy of transcendentalism in his 1836 essay "Nature".
Following this work, he gave a speech entitled what?
A: "The American Scholar" in 1837.
Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. considered the speech to be
A: America's "intellectual Declaration of Independence."
Emerson wrote most of his important essays as what?
A: As lectures first and then revised them for print.
His first two collections of essays, Essays: First
Series (1841) and Essays: Second Series (1844), represent what?
A: The core of his thinking.
They include what well-known essays?
A: "Self-Reliance", "The Over-Soul", "Circles", "The Poet", and "Experience."
Together with "Nature", these essays made the decade
from the mid-1830s to the mid-1840s Emerson's what?
A: His most fertile period.
Emerson wrote on a number of subjects, never espousing
fixed philosophical tenets, but developing certain ideas such as what?
A: Individuality, freedom, the ability for mankind to realize almost anything, and the relationship between the soul and the surrounding world.
Emerson's "nature" was more philosophical than what?
A: Naturalistic: "Philosophically considered, the universe is composed of Nature and the Soul."
Emerson is one of several figures who "took a more
pantheist or pandeist approach by rejecting views of what?
A: God as separate from the world."
Emerson is also well known as a mentor and friend of
A: Henry David Thoreau, a fellow transcendentalist.
Where was Emerson born?
A: In Newbury, Massachusetts.
When was he born?
A: On May 25, 1803.
Who were his parents?
A: Ruth Haskins and the Rev. William Emerson, a Unitarian minister.
He was named after whom?
A: His mother's brother Ralph and his father's great-grandmother Rebecca Waldo.
Ralph Waldo was the second of five sons who survived
into adulthood; who were the others?
A: William, Edward, Robert Bulkeley, and Charles.
What three other children died in childhood?
A: Phoebe, John Clarke, and Mary Caroline.
Emerson was entirely of what ancestry?
Emerson's father died from stomach cancer on May 12,
1811, less than two weeks before what?
A: Emerson's eighth birthday.
Emerson was raised by his mother, with the help of
A: The other women in the family.
His aunt Mary Moody Emerson in particular had what?
A: A profound effect on him.
She lived with the family off and on and maintained
A: A constant correspondence with Emerson until her death in 1863.
Where did Emerson's formal schooling begin?
A: At the Boston Latin School in 1812, when he was nine.
In October 1817, at age 14, Emerson went to Harvard
College and was appointed what?
A: Freshman messenger for the president, requiring Emerson to fetch delinquent students and send messages to faculty.
By his senior year, Emerson decided to do what?
A: Go by his middle name, Waldo.
Emerson served as Class Poet; as was custom, he
presented an original poem on what?
A: Harvard's Class Day, a month before his official graduation on August 29, 1821, when he was 18.