Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, at 34A Bedford Street in Concord, Massachusetts, is the final resting place of New England literary giants and prominent transcendentalists like Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau. The architecture firm of Cleveland and Copeland designed Sleepy Hollow in the rural style in 1855, with winding paths and a natural, wooded setting. Thousands make a pilgrimage here looking for inspiration, and many leave behind pencils, notes, and other tokens of appreciation.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was a writer and transcendentalist philosopher known for his book Walden and essay “Civil Disobedience.” In these works, he outlined his philosophy of simple living, pacifism, and the abolition of slavery. Some have described him as an anarchist for his conclusion, “That government is best which governs not at all.”
In contrast to the transcendentalists also buried on “Author’s Ridge”, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) was a dark romantic writer known for The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables. Dark romantics believed humans are naturally prone to sin and self destruction. Hawthorne is considered one of America’s greatest novelists.
Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) was born into a prominent family of transcendentalists, and was tutored by literary greats like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller. She wrote the novel Little Women under the pen name A.M. Barnard, and is considered an early feminist.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) was a leader of the transcendentalist movement and champion of individualism (most well-articulated in his essay “Self-Reliance“). He was a prolific author and lecturer. It’s difficult to think of a writer who had greater impact on American intellectual life.