Ralph Waldo Emerson [Boston 1803 - Concord 1882]
1803 - born in Boston to William Emerson and Ruth Haskins
1807 - death of brother John Clarke
1811 - father William Emerson dies
1812-17 - attends Boston Latin School
1820 - begins keeping journals which he would continue throughout virtually all his life. The first series are called "Wide World", expressing his current thoughts on any and all topics.
1821-25 - attends Harvard College, in a rather undistinguished manner
- also teaches "school for young ladies"
1822 - publishes first article, in The Christian Disciple
1825 - admitted to middle class of Harvard Divinity School
1826 - preaches first sermon in Samuel Ripley's pulpit
1827 - sails to South Carolina and St. Augustine, Florida seeking better health
1827-29 - serves as "supply" preacher
1828 - engaged to Ellen Tucker, age 17
- mental breakdown of brother Edward
1829 - ordained as junior minister of Second Church (Unitarian) in Boston
- marries Ellen Tucker
1831 - Ellen dies of tuberculosis
1832 - preaches "Last Supper" sermon, resigns from Second Church
- first trip to Italy, France, England and Scotland
- formulates many of his self-reliance, "Nature" ideas on trip
1833 - meets Coleridge, Wordsworth, has inspiring meeting with Carlyle
- interest in science rises, sees connections with spirituality and the unity of all
- returns enthusiastic about his new embracement of Transcendentalism
- gives first lecture "The Uses of Natural History" at the Masonic Temple, Boston
1833 - Frederic Hedge publishes article on Coleridge in The Christian Examiner which provides the first American recognition of the claims of Transcendentalism
1834 - settles in Concord. Boards with Ezra Ripley, his step-grandfather. "Nature" and next set of lectures written there. - - brother Edward dies unexpectedly, age 29. Edward once said, "the arrow of the angel had gone too deep".
- Coming together of influences encourage Emerson's conviction that what is beyond nature is revealed to us through nature, that the miraculous is revealed through the scientific and the natural, and that the inner life is revealed through the life of the senses.
- Bronson Alcott establishes Temple School in Boston, a "remarkable" experiment in Transcendental education
1835 - lectures on "Biography" from January - March
- marries Lydian Jackson
- Margaret Fuller gives her "Conversations" to "interested persons"
1835-36 - Lecture Series on "English Literature"
1836 - brother Charles dies
- "Nature" published
- meets Margaret Fuller
- helps form Transcendental Club in September
- son Waldo born
- Carlyle publishes "Sartor Resartus"
1837 - RWE gives "The American Scholar" address at Harvard to seniors, one of whom is Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau, responding to a suggestion of Emerson's, begins to keep a journal. Leads to an extraordinary lifetime of journal-keeping.
- writes "The Concord Hymn" and delivers "The American Scholar," the Phi Beta Kappa Society oration, at Harvard
1838 - gives "Divinity School Address" at Harvard. Later the prominent Andrews Norton attacks Emerson's views as "the latest form of infidelity"
- delivers "Literary Ethics" lecture at Dartmouth
- Jones Very makes first visit to Concord
1839 - daughter Ellen born
- Lecture series "The Present Age" from December to February, 1840
- Elizabeth Peabody opens a bookshop that becomes the gathering place for Transcendentalists.
- Jones Very publishes Essays and Poems
1840-44 - writes for The Dial with Margaret Fuller as editor
1841 - "Essays" (First Series) - published
- includes "Self-Reliance", "The Over-Soul" among others
- Thoreau moves into Emerson home for two-year stay, becomes household handyman, and father figure when Emerson is on lecture tour
- daughter Edith born
- Brook Farm, an experiment in communal living, established by George Ripley and colleagues. Emerson does not join.
- Theodore Parker attacks historical Christianity in his sermon "A Discourse of the Transient and Permanent in Christianity"
1842 - son Waldo dies
- lectures in New York, meets Henry James
- assumes editorship of The Dial
- visits Shaker community with Nathaniel Hawthorne
1843 - delivers lecture series "New England" in Baltimore, New York, Philadelphia, Newark
- Bronson Alcott and friends establish Fruitlands
- Nathaniel Hawthorne reveals attitude toward Transcendentalism in his allegory "The Celestial Railroad"
1844 - Emerson's "Essays: Second Series" published. Sells well.
- son Edward born
- delivers address "Emancipation in the British West Indies", first public statement against slavery
1845 - Close friend Margaret Fuller publishes Woman in the Nineteenth Century.
- Henry David Thoreau moves into self-built cabin on Walden Pond (on Emerson's property) for 2 years and 2 months, in order to "live deliberately."
1845-46 - Lecture series "Representative Men"
1846 - Poems published
1847-48 - second trip to England and France, British lecture tour. Visits Carlyle, Martineau, Wordsworth
1849 - "Nature; Addresses and Lectures published again
1850 - "Representative Men" published
- first western (Cleveland & Cincinati) lecture tour
- Margaret Fuller Ossoli drowns at sea off Long Island, New York on her return from Italy
1851 - speaks on the Fugitive Slave Law
- Melville publishes Moby Dick
1852 - speaks on the Fugitive Slave Law
- edits memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli
- western lecture tour
- Hawthorne publishes The Blithedale Romance based in part on Brook Farm
1853 - mother, Ruth Haskins Emerson, dies at 85, at Emerson's home
1854 - lectures on poetry at Harvard Divinity School
- meets Walt Whitman in New York City
- Walden by Thoreau is published. He also publishes Life Without Principle, a definition of his transcendental criticism of materialism.
1855 - Whitman publishes Leaves of Grass Emerson believes Whitman to be a true American genius yet suggests to Whitman that some overtly sexual passages be omitted. Whitman declines.
1856 - "English Traits" published
1859 - brother Bulkeley dies
1860 - "The Conduct of Life" published
1861 - mobbed at Tremont Temple by pro-slavery agitators
1862 - meets Abraham Lincoln
- Henry David Thoreau dies. Emerson gives funeral oration.
1863 - hails Lincoln's "Emancipation Proclamation" with "Boston Hymn"
1866 - given honorary doctorate at Harvard College
1867 - "May-Day and Other Pieces" published
- elected Harvard "Overseer"
1868 - brother William dies
1870 - "Society and Solitude" published
- launches lecture series "The Natural History of the Intellect"
- Emerson's memory noticeably begins to fail
1871 - trip to California, meets with famed naturalist John Muir who is enchanted with RWE
- gives second Harvard lecture series
1872 - Emerson's house (Bush) burns
1872-73 - third trip to Europe including England (farewell visit to Carlyle) and Egypt...while house is repaired
- the town celebrates his return much to Emerson's surprise
1874 - "Parnassus" published
1875 - "Letters and Social Aims" published
- discontinues regular journal entries
1876 - lectures at University of Virginia
1881 - reads paper at Massachusetts Historical Society on the death of Carlyle
1882 - Emerson dies in Concord on April 27, at age 78 and is buried in Sleepy Hollow.
1883-86 - Emerson-Carlyle correspondence published
1884 - "Lectures and Biographical Sketches" published. "Miscellanies" published.
1892 - Lydian Emerson dies at age 90
1893 - "Natural History of the Intellect" and "Other Papers" published
1909-1910 - "Journals' edited by son Edward Emerson and Waldo Emerson Forbes, published in ten volumes.
(Chronology taken from "Emerson: The Mind on Fire" by Richardson, "Ralph Waldo Emerson: Days of Encounter" by McAleer, and others volumes. Compiled by Watershed Online.)