Max Ehrmann (1872-1945)

Save for two years studying law and philosophy at Harvard, Max Ehrmann lived his entire life in Terre Haute, Indiana. Of his time in college at Depauw University, he once said: "I contracted a disease I have never shaken off. The disease was idealism." While at Harvard, he resolved not to spend his life in pursuit of money -- everyone's "conventional goal" -- resolving instead to "write beautiful books." Upon "Desiderata's" publication in 1927 when he was 55, Ehrmann wrote in his personal journal that he had written it "out of a need to remind myself how I want to live my life."

A lawyer by training, mostly practicing only as was financially necessary, he was far more content writing poems and prose and books. He never made much money from his creative efforts, but he had a sincere desire that they become known. He married a much younger woman only three months before his death at age 72 in 1945 so that she would inherit his collective works and continue the effort to expose them to the larger world. Through a very twisted set of events that occurred a few years after her death in 1961, "Desiderata" became extremely famous but with the equally extreme irony that most people who became exposed to "Desiderata" thought its author was "Anonymous."