Email this page Though not a professional philosopher, Henry David Thoreau is recognized as an important contributor to the American literary and philosophical movement known as New England Transcendentalism. His essays, books, and poems weave together two central themes over the course of his intellectual career: In his moral and political work Thoreau aligned himself with the post-Socratic schools of Greek philosophy—in particular, the Cynics and Stoics—that used philosophy as a means of addressing ordinary human experience. His naturalistic writing integrated straightforward observation and cataloguing with Transcendentalist interpretations of nature and the wilderness.
His paternal grandfather had been born on the UK crown dependency island of Jersey. He began to call himself Henry David after he finished college; he never petitioned to make a legal name change. The house has been restored by the Thoreau Farm Trust,  a nonprofit organization, and is now open to the public.
He studied at Harvard College between and He lived in Hollis Hall and took courses in rhetoricclassics, philosophy, mathematics, and science. Harvard College offered it to graduates "who proved their physical worth by being alive three years after graduating, and their saving, earning, or inheriting quality or condition by having Five Dollars to give the college.
Return to Concord, —[ edit ] The traditional professions open to college graduates—law, the church, business, medicine—did not interest Thoreau, : After he graduated inhe joined the faculty of the Concord public school, but he resigned after a few weeks rather than administer corporal punishment.
The school closed henry david thoreau nature writing award John became fatally ill from tetanus in after cutting himself while shaving. Emerson urged Thoreau to contribute essays and poems to a quarterly periodical, The Dialand lobbied the editor, Margaret Fuller, to publish those writings.
In his early years he followed Transcendentalisma loose and eclectic idealist philosophy advocated by Emerson, Fuller, and Alcott. They held that an ideal spiritual state transcends, or goes beyond, the physical and empirical, and that one achieves that insight via personal intuition rather than religious doctrine.
In their view, Nature is the outward sign of inward spirit, expressing the "radical correspondence of visible things and human thoughts", as Emerson wrote in Nature He rediscovered the process of making good pencils with inferior graphite by using clay as the binder.
Later, Thoreau converted the pencil factory to produce plumbago, a name for graphite at the time, which was used in the electrotyping process. In April he and his friend Edward Hoar accidentally set a fire that consumed acres 1. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary.
I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.
I see no other alternative, no other hope for you. Thoreau refused because of his opposition to the Mexican—American War and slaveryand he spent a night in jail because of this refusal. The next day Thoreau was freed when someone, likely to have been his aunt, paid the tax, against his wishes.
In January and Februaryhe delivered lectures on "The Rights and Duties of the Individual in relation to Government",  explaining his tax resistance at the Concord Lyceum. Bronson Alcott attended the lecture, writing in his journal on January His allusions to the Mexican War, to Mr.
Thoreau did not find a publisher for the book and instead printed 1, copies at his own expense; fewer than were sold.
Thoreau left Walden Pond on September 6, The book compresses that time into a single calendar year, using the passage of the four seasons to symbolize human development.
Part memoir and part spiritual quest, Walden at first won few admirers, but later critics have regarded it as a classic American work that explores natural simplicity, harmony, and beauty as models for just social and cultural conditions.
Inhe and his family moved into a house at Main Streetwhere he lived until his death. He jested that all he got from this adventure "was a cold.
Whereas his own country had had its revolution, in Canada history had failed to turn. He read avidly on botany and often wrote observations on this topic into his journal.
The point of this task was to "anticipate" the seasons of nature, in his word. He also kept a series of notebooks, and these observations became the source of his late writings on natural history, such as "Autumnal Tints", "The Succession of Trees", and "Wild Apples", an essay lamenting the destruction of indigenous wild apple species.
Until the s, literary critics[ who? With the rise of environmental history and ecocriticism as academic disciplines, several new readings of Thoreau began to emerge, showing him to have been both a philosopher and an analyst of ecological patterns in fields and woodlots.
Walden Pond He traveled to Canada East once, Cape Cod four times, and Maine three times; these landscapes inspired his "excursion" books, A Yankee in CanadaCape Cod, and The Maine Woods, in which travel itineraries frame his thoughts about geography, history and philosophy.
Paul and Mackinac Island. He devoured all the first-hand travel accounts available in his day, at a time when the last unmapped regions of the earth were being explored.
He processed everything he read, in the local laboratory of his Concord experience. Among his famous aphorisms is his advice to "live at home like a traveler. Thoreau was disgusted by this, and he composed a key speech, A Plea for Captain John Brownwhich was uncompromising in its defense of Brown and his actions.
As a biographer of Brown put it, "If, as Alfred Kazin suggests, without John Brown there would have been no Civil War, we would add that without the Concord Transcendentalists, John Brown would have had little cultural impact.
Infollowing a late-night excursion to count the rings of tree stumps during a rainstorm, he became ill with bronchitis.Extensive site devoted to the writings, philosophy, life of Henry David Thoreau; created by The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau, definitive edition of Thoreau's works, directed by Elizabeth Hall Witherell.
Contains biography, bibliography, research and manuscript material, links to related sites (on American literature, Transcendentalism, nature writing, natural history, environment). Extensive site devoted to the writings, philosophy, life of Henry David Thoreau; created by The Writings of Henry D.
Thoreau, definitive edition of Thoreau's works, directed by Elizabeth Hall Witherell. Contains biography, bibliography, research and manuscript material, links to related sites (on American literature, Transcendentalism, nature writing.
Walden (/ ˈ w ɔː l d ən /; first published as Walden; or, Life in the Woods) is a book by noted transcendentalist Henry David benjaminpohle.com text is a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings.
The work is part personal declaration of independence, social experiment, voyage of spiritual discovery, satire, and—to some degree—a manual for . Diane Ackerman is the recipient of the Henry David Thoreau Award for Nature Writing, as well as the Orion Book Award, the John Burroughs Nature Award, the Visionary Artist Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Lavan Poetry Prize, an honorary doctorate from Kenyon College, was named a Literary Lion by the New York Public Library.
With these words, Henry David Thoreau began the tale of his experiment of simple living at Walden Pond. Over the course of the next three hundred-odd pages, Thoreau outlined his philosophy of life, politics, and nature, laying the foundation for a secure place in the canon of great American writers.
Henry David Thoreau () was a philosopher and writer best known for his attacks on American social institutions and his respect for nature and simple living. He was heavily influenced by the writer Ralph Waldo Emerson, who introduced Thoreau to the ideas of transcendentalism, a philosophy central to Thoreau's thinking and writing.