Early second wife, Lydia Jackson, in 1835.

Early American literature is an important part of America’s history. It gives people an understanding of the way things were in the past. Studying early essayists, poets, speakers, and novelists helps us to understand the knowledge, beliefs, wisdom, and entertainment of those who lived long ago. Two examples of extraordinary 19th century American poets are Ralph Waldo Emerson and Edgar Allan Poe. Ralph Waldo Emerson was born on May 25, 1803 in Boston, Massachusetts to Ruth and clergyman William Emerson. In 1812, Emerson attended Boston Latin School. In 1817, at the young age of 14 he started attending Harvard College and graduated in 1821.(Biography.com) He taught for a short time before going to Harvard Divinity school. Soon after Emerson entered the ministry and became an unwilling preacher at the Old Second Church. He had already started to falter from his Christian faith before his young wife, Ellen Tucker, died from tuberculosis in 1831 causing Emerson to resign from his position as pastor.(Academy of American Poets) The year following his wife’s death he traveled to Europe where he met Thomas Carlyle, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and William Wordsworth, famous literary figures that inspired who he would become.(Biography.com) After his return from Europe he settled in Concord, Massachusetts in 1834 and started writing “Nature” which he published anonymously two years later in 1836. He married his second wife, Lydia Jackson, in 1835. Emerson and his wife had four children, two sons and two daughters. (Britannica) On August 31, 1837 he gave his famous speech, The American Scholar. He became a spokesman for Transcendentalism, a philosophical movement that was created in order to protest the common intellect and spirituality of that time period . One of his most well known works “Essays-First Series” is a series of essays about Transcendentalism and was published in 1841. In 1842, he began editing the transcendentalist journal, The Dial, until 1844 when he published his second book of essays concerning Transcendentalism”Essays-Second Series.” Emerson continued to write well into his old age until he died of pneumonia on April 27, 1882.(Academy of American Poets) Poetry Foundation calls Emerson “one of the most influential writers and thinkers of the nineteenth century in the United States.” Everything Emerson wrote was of his sophisticated philosophy and spiritual beliefs. Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts. Poe became orphaned by the age of three and was sent to live with close family friend, John Allan, in Richmond, Virginia.(Poetry Foundation) During his childhood, Poe attended the best available schools. He was sent to Scotland and England to receive a classical education from 1815 until 1820.(Britannica) In 1825, he attended University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He was an excellent scholar and he excelled in his classes but was forced to leave school after less than a year due to unpaid debts and no financial support from John Allan. Poe left for Boston in 1827 and enlisted in the army under the alias of Edgar Perry. The same year that Poe joined the army he also published his first poetry collection “Tamerlane and Other Poems” In 1829, Poe was honorable discharged as Regimental Sergeant Major. After his discharge he published his second poetry collection “Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems” Soon after he attended U.S Military Academy at West Point but was dismissed for ignoring duties and violating regulations. He published his third poetry collection “Poems” in 1831.(Poetry Foundation) Poe married his young cousin,Virginia Clemm, who was only thirteen at the time, in 1835. He became editor of the Southern Literary Messenger and a critical reviewer in 1835. In 1838, Poe published “Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.” The next year after receiving great publicity for winning a prize from Philadelphia Dollar Newspaper he became the coeditor for Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine. Poe resigned in 1840 but returned the next year to become the editor of Graham’s Lady’s and Gentleman’s Magazine. He became the subeditor of the New York Mirror in 1844. The next year he became the editor of the Broadway Journal. Poe faced an emotional crisis after the death of his wife due to tuberculosis in 1847.(Britannica) Poe left for Philadelphia on September 27,1849 but he never made it. He was found on October 3, 1849 in Baltimore and was taken to Washington College Hospital where he died four days later on October 7, 1849. Poe’s last words were “Lord help my poor soul.” His cause of death was said to be congestion of the brain although there are many speculations. Two days after his death on October 9, 1849 his last poem, “Annabel Lee” was published. Edgar Allan Poe is most well-known for his sense of sorrow, horror, and mystery. Even biography.com describes him in such a way. “American writer, poet and critic Edgar Allan Poe is famous for his tales and poems of horror and mystery, including ‘The Fall of the House of Usher,’ ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ and ‘The Raven.'” These famous 19th century poets have played a large part in American literature and have influenced and inspired many others throughout the years. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote mostly about his beliefs and philosophies while Edgar Allan Poe incorporated his emotions into the stories and poems that he wrote for the entertainment of others but both poets wrote with great knowledge and wisdom. They show the diverse writing styles of that time period in a way that encourages others to look further into early American Literature.