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Thoreau: resources

September 5, 2012
English: Portrait by Benjamin D. Maxham (dague...

English: Portrait by Benjamin D. Maxham (daguerreotype), black and white of Henry David Thoreau in June 1856. The writer-collar post a beard and is dressed in a black frock coat, a white shirt and a black bow tie.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Links to various images of Walden (the pond and place).

Thoreau Reader: links to web resources.

Wikipedia entry on “ecology”–some implications to consider for why this most famous of environmental texts begins with a chapter titled “Economy.”

Brief Thoreau biography, from the Concord Free Public Library, where many Thoreau manuscripts are held.

American author, lecturer, naturalist, student of Native American artifacts and life, transcendentalist, land surveyor, and life-long resident of Concord, Mass. Active opponent of slavery and social critic.

Born July 12, 1817, son of Concord storekeeper and pencilmaker John Thoreau and Cynthia Dunbar Thoreau. Graduated from Harvard College and began keeping a journal–the source for much of his writing–in 1837. Taught public school in Concord briefly in 1837. Lecturer for Concord Lyceum from 1838. Sought (largely unsuccessfully) to publish pieces in periodicals from late 1830s. Travelled down Concord and Merrimack Rivers with brother John in 1839. Ran private school with John 1839-1841, John’s illness and death putting an end to the enterprise. Lived in Emerson household 1841-1843. Tutored children of Emerson’s brother William on Staten Island 1843-1844. Returned to Concord and, in 1845, built house on Emerson’s land at Walden Pond, where he lived from summer of 1845 until Sept., 1847. In summer of 1846, jailed overnight for non-payment of poll tax in protest against slavery. His piece “Resistance to Civil Government,” reflecting this experience, was published in E.P. Peabody’s Aesthetic Papers in 1849. While at Walden, wrote first draft of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers and kept journals which he later worked into Walden, or, Life in the WoodsA Week, published at author’s risk in 1849, did not sell and the remaining copies were returned to Thoreau (1853). Walden was published in 1854.

Actively took up land and property surveying in 1840s, working both for Town of Concord and for private property owners. Thoreau’s friends included Emerson, Alcott, and Channing in Concord, H.G.O. Blake of Worcester, and Daniel Ricketson of New Bedford. Journeyed to Cape Cod in 1849 and 1853, to Canada in 1850, to Maine in 1853 and 1857, and to Minnesota (with Horace Mann, Jr.) in 1861.

Thoreau’s essay “Walking,” published posthumously in the Atlantic Monthly for June, 1862, was based largely on journal entries for 1850-1852. Thoreau had delivered lectures entitled “Walking” in 1851/1852 and 1856/1857. Close to his death, he revised his material in preparing the manuscript submitted for publication in the Atlantic Monthly.

Died of tuberculosis on May 6, 1862. Sister Sophia edited unpublished manuscripts, resulting in publication of several posthumous books–Excursions (1863), The Maine Woods (1864), Cape Cod (1865), A Yankee in Canada (1866). Emerson edited letters (Letters to Various Persons, 1865). H.G.O. Blake published four volumes based on selected journal entries (Early Spring in Massachusetts, 1881, Summer, 1884, Winter, 1888, Autumn, 1892). Thoreau biographer H.S. Salt and F.B. Sanborn edited poems (Poems of Nature, 1895). Complete works: Riverside Edition (1894); Walden Edition (1906); Princeton Edition (ongoing to date).

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