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Don't confuse this cemetery with the Washington Irving Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in New York. Although both graveyards have the same name and are known for the authors buried there, the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Massachusetts is home to "author's ridge," where some famous Boston writers and thinkers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Louisa May Alcott are buried.
Hawthorne was born in 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts. He was related to John Hathorne, the only judge in the Salem witch trials who never repented for his actions. Some scholars think that this relative might have had something to do with the dark and often critical of America writing style that Hawthorne went on to develop. Nathaniel's parents went by the last name "Hathorne." It was Nathaniel who added the W to his name to hide his relationship to his forbear. Hawthorne was a member of the famous "Saturday Club," a gathering of famous writers in Boston, MA, and some of his works include "The Scarlet Letter," "Twice Told Tales," and "Fanshawe." He died in his sleep in 1864. His wife and daughter were originally buried in England but were moved in 2006 to plots next to Hawthorne.
Born in 1803 in Boston, Emerson was an essayist and poet who, along with Henry David Thoreau, helped to lead the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. A classic Boston writer, Emerson was perhaps one of the most prominent America writers of his time. He wrote about individualism and criticized America's society at the time in a plethora of essays including "Nature," "The American Scholar" and "Self-Reliance." He died in 1882 in Concord, MA and is buried here not far from his friend Henry David Thoreau.
Louisa May Alcott was born in 1832 and raised by a pair of transcendentalist parents who introduced her to writers like Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Working from an early age to support her family, Alcott also sought a career as a writer. She wrote the famous book "Little Women" and its sequel "Little Men." Both of the novels are based on her childhood experiences in Concord, MA. "Little Women" was a breakout success among young adults. An abolitionist and a feminist, Alcott was a driving force behind the Boston literary scene until she died in Boston on March 6, 1888.
Henry David Thoreau was an American essayist, poet and philosopher and a leader of the transcendentalist movement. His most famous book is "Walden or Life in the Woods" which reflects on his experiences living simply with nature at Walden Pond, not far from Boston. Born in Concord, MA, Thoreau studied at Harvard College, and according to legend, he refused to pay the five dollar fee for a Harvard diploma. After his time at Walden Pond, Thoreau became interested in natural history and became a land surveyor. He contracted bronchitis after staying out at night during a rainstorm counting the rings of a tree stump. As Thoreau's health declined, he accepted his fate stoically. An aunt asked him if he had made his peace with God and Thoreau responded, "I did not know we had ever quarreled." Thoreau died on May 6th, 1862 at the age of 44. His last words were, "Now comes good failing. Moose. Indian."
Cover Photo Credit: Tim Evanson via Flickr