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Emerson, Mary Moody (25 August 1774–01 May 1863), aunt and influential teacher of Ralph Waldo Emerson, aunt and influential teacher of Ralph Waldo Emerson, was born in Concord, Massachusetts, the daughter of Reverend William Emerson and Phebe Bliss. Before he left home to serve as chaplain in the Continental army, William Emerson sent Mary, the fourth of five children, to live with his mother. After he died of a fever, Mary remained with her grandmother, and when she died Mary was sent to live with an impoverished aunt on her farm in Malden. She thus began life as she always lived it, in exile. The extreme poverty and drudgery of her youth was made even more difficult after a second, apparently insane aunt was sent to live at the Malden farm. In 1780, when Mary’s mother married her husband’s successor, Dr. ...

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Ferguson, Elizabeth Graeme (03 February 1737–23 February 1801), writer and translator, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Thomas Graeme, a prominent physician, and Ann Diggs, stepdaughter of Sir William Keith, the first provincial governor of Pennsylvania. In the environment of her father’s large estate, “Graeme Park,” Elizabeth developed into a well-read and cultivated young woman. According to one memoir, her literary activity began “to divert her mind” from a broken engagement to ...

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Ripley, Sarah Alden Bradford (31 July 1793–26 July 1867), scholar, Transcendentalist, and teacher of Ralph Waldo Emerson, scholar, Transcendentalist, and teacher of Ralph Waldo Emerson, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Gamaliel Bradford III, a sea captain and penal reformer, and Elizabeth Hickling. Her father traced his ancestry to ...