Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau was born in 1817 in Concord Massachusetts. He spent most of his life in the areas or writing, teacher, essayist and orator. Thoreau attended Concord Academy and Harvard. He was knows as an individualist, often scornful of authority. During these years, Thoreau encountered three men which influenced him: Edward Channing, Orestes Brownson, and Ralph Waldo Emmerson.

After graduating from Harvard in 1837, Thoreau and his brother John opened there own school in Concord. It was operated according to Transcendentalisms' principles. However, John became fatally ill in 1841, and Thoreau was unable to find another position. Thoreau then accepted a position of handyman, and lived in Emerson's home. Emerson encouraged Thoreau to keep journals, many of which where the basis or provided material for more of his major writings. Around this time Thoreau had already submitted several articles which where published to The Dial (a Transcendentalist journal) and was an occasional speaker at the Concord Lyceum. (he started this in 1838). Most of his mature writing are from the two-year period when he lived at Walden Pond. It was there where he put A Week on the Concord and Merrimack (written in 1849) into its final form. This book was based on a trip he took with this brother John in 1839. The whole experience at Walden, and his journals which he kept there, are the source of the book Walden (written in 1854). This book is his lengthy, autobiographical essay, and it describes his ideas on how a person should "live there live to the best advantage of his nature and principles"(Ousby 941). Thoreau was once arrested in the summer of 1846 for refusing to pay his poll tax, and the night he spent in jail has been the ideas behind several plays, which reflect a man's right to passively resist unjust laws.

Most of Thoreau's work was published after his death. Once aware that he was dying of tuberculosis, Thoreau cut short his therapeutic travels and returned to his home in Concord. This is where he prepared some of his journals for publication. Selections from these manuscripts where edited and published after his death. Several of his novels, such as The Main Woods (1864) and Cape Cod (1865) are based on his various journeys. One of Thoreau's novels, Excursions, is a collection of pieces previously only published in various magazines. Even some of his letters where compiled and edited by Ralph Waldo Emerson and then published in book form in 1865, then enlarged in 1894. His novel, Poems of Nature, was published in 1895, then expanded and named Collected Poems in 1943. Thoreau's immense collection of journals compiled over the years where collected and published in book form in 1906.

Henry David Thoreau was truly a great writer. His earlier writings help to spread the ideas of the Transcendentalism. His journeys where compiled to create stories after he died, and his poems about nature where also published and appreciated. Even his letters where edited and published by his friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Thoreau was a great writer who made an impact with his ideas on laws and nature, and this kind of success is not often recreated.

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