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Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) was an essayist, poet, and the leader of the transcendentalist movement in the United States. A prolific writer, Emerson published dozens of essays and addresses, including "Self-Reliance" and "The American Scholar," which Oliver Wendell Holmes declared the "intellectual Declaration of Independence." A staunch supporter of individualism as well as man's connection with the natural world, Emerson is, in addition to being a transcendentalist pioneer, one of the most important figures in the American romantic movement. Emerson inspired many contemporary writers, like Henry David Thoreau, his lifelong friend and mentee.

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