Name Change: Lydia to Lidian

Lydia "Lidian" Emerson (1802-1892), second wife of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Lydia “Lidian” Emerson (with son Edward)

Transcendentalist writer and lecturer Ralph Waldo Emerson proposed to his second wife, Lydia Jackson, via letter in January of 1835.

We do not have Lydia’s reply to the proposal, but it came swiftly. […] Within a week he was calling her Lidian (though he continued for a while to write Lydia on the envelope) and they began planning a life together. It has been suggested that Emerson called her Lidian in order to head off the inevitable New England pronunciation of her married name as Lydiar Emerson, but all that we know for certain is that he remarked to a cousin at the time that “the philistines baptized her Lydia, but her name is Lidian.”

Ralph married Lydia/Lidian later the same year, in September.

In her correspondence, she signed herself “Lidian” when the letters went to her husband or to individuals within the Emerson circle; to her sister, she remained “Lydia.”

On her gravestone, her name is written “Lidian Emerson.”

Which name do you like more, Lydia or Lidian?

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