Henry David Thoreau


"If a man does not keep pace with his companions perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."-Henry David Thoreau

"He is a keen and delicate observer of nature - a genuine observer - which, I suspect, is almost as rare a character as even an original poet; and Nature, in return for his love, seems to adopt him as her especial child, and shows him secrets which few others are allowed to witness."-Nathaniel Hawthorne, from his journal, September 1, 1842

Born in Concord, MA, on July 12, 1817, Concord's most famous native son was a quintessentially American essayist and naturalist. He graduated from Harvard College at age 20 and worked briefly in the Thoreau (pronounced like "thorough," with the accent on the first syllable) family's pencil factory before taking up life as a teacher. With his brother John, he established a school in Concord based on Transcendentalism, a philosophy he learned from Concord friend and neighbor Ralph Waldo Emerson. When John died of lockjaw in 1842, Thoreau closed the school and moved in with Emerson, working as his handyman. With Emerson's encouragement, he continued to keep a journal and published a few pieces in the Dial, a Transcendentalist journal.

In 1845, Thoreau built himself a one-room cabin on Walden Pond where he set out to "live deep and suck out all the marrow of life." He lived in the cabin on and off for two years, faithfully recording the experience in his journal. Seven years later, he would publish Walden; or Life in the Woods, a collection of essays based on his journal and describing his personal philosophy of self-sufficiency and antimaterialism. An ardent abolitionist and staunch defender of John Brown, during his stay on Walden Pond, Thoreau was arrested and jailed for one night for failing to pay his poll tax, which he did to protest slavery and the government's "imperialist" Mexican-American war. That experience would become the basis for his essay "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience."

In the early 1850s, he moved back to his family home in Concord, working again in the family pencil business and as a surveyor, an outdoor job that would provide the basis for numerous essays and publications on natural history, ecology, and man's place in nature. In 1860, while working outdoors he caught a cold that quickly turned into bronchitis. Already suffering from tuberculosis (from which his older sister Helen had apparently died in 1849), his health steadily deteriorated, and on May 6, 1862, shy of his forty-fifth birthday, he died at home in Concord. He is buried on Author's Ridge next to the graves of Emerson, Alcott, and Hawthorne in Concord's Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.


Henry David Thoreau: A Life By Laura Dassow Walls Cover Image
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Published: University of Chicago Press - September 28th, 2018

Walden: Selections from the American Classic (Shambhala Pocket Library #18) By Henry David Thoreau, Terry Tempest Williams (Foreword by) Cover Image
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Published: Shambhala - May 22nd, 2018

Walden (Vintage Classics) By Henry David Thoreau, Benjamin Markovits (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Henry David Thoreau, Benjamin Markovits (Introduction by)
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Published: Vintage Classics - October 1st, 2017

Walking By Henry David Thoreau, Adam Tuchinsky (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Henry David Thoreau, Adam Tuchinsky (Introduction by)
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ISBN: 9780884486138
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Published: Tilbury House Publishers - September 12th, 2017

Walden: With an Introduction and Annotations by Bill McKibben (Concord Library) By Henry David Thoreau, Bill McKibben (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Henry David Thoreau, Bill McKibben (Introduction by)
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ISBN: 9780807098134
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Published: Beacon Press - June 27th, 2017

Walden: Life in the Woods: Life in the Woods By Henry David Thoreau Cover Image
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Published: Gibbs Smith - March 7th, 2017

Cape Cod (Classic, Nature, Penguin) By Henry David Thoreau, Paul Theroux (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Henry David Thoreau, Paul Theroux (Introduction by)
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ISBN: 9780140170023
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Published: Penguin Classics - March 3rd, 1987

Walking By Henry Thoreau Cover Image
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Published: Applewood Books - December 12th, 1988

Henry and the Huckleberries: A Visit with Mr. Thoreau at Walden Pond By Sally Sanford, Ilse Plume (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Sally Sanford, Ilse Plume (Illustrator)
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ISBN: 9781632260765
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Published: Prospecta Press - February 7th, 2017

Walden By Henry David Thoreau Cover Image
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Published: Macmillan Collector's Library - November 1st, 2016

Thoreau: A Sublime Life By A. Dan, Maximilien Le Roy Cover Image
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Published: NBM Publishing - May 13th, 2016

Henry David Thoreau for Kids: His Life and Ideas, with 21 Activities (For Kids series #64) By Corinne Hosfeld Smith Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781613731468
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Published: Chicago Review Press - February 1st, 2016

Thoreau on Nature: Sage Words on Finding Harmony with the Natural World By Henry David Thoreau, Nick Lyons (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Henry David Thoreau, Nick Lyons (Introduction by)
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ISBN: 9781634504614
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Published: Skyhorse - November 24th, 2015

Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind By Robert D. Richardson, Jr., Barry Moser (Illustrator), Barry Moser (Designed by) Cover Image
By Robert D. Richardson, Jr., Barry Moser (Illustrator), Barry Moser (Designed by)
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ISBN: 9780520063464
Published: University of California Press - January 21st, 1988

Citizen Thoreau: Walden, Civil Disobedience, Life Without Principle, Slavery in Massachusetts, a Plea for Captain John Brown By Henry David Thoreau, Richard F. Fleck (Foreword by) Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781941821206
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Published: Westwinds Press - September 15th, 2014

Walden and Civil Disobedience (Word Cloud Classics) By Henry David Thoreau Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781626860636
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Published: Canterbury Classics - May 1st, 2014

If You Spent a Day with Thoreau at Walden Pond By Robert Burleigh, Wendell Minor (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Robert Burleigh, Wendell Minor (Illustrator)
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ISBN: 9780805091373
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Published: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) - October 16th, 2012

Walden and Civil Disobedience By Henry David Thoreau, W. S. Merwin (Introduction by), William Howarth (Afterword by) Cover Image
By Henry David Thoreau, W. S. Merwin (Introduction by), William Howarth (Afterword by)
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Published: Signet - July 3rd, 2012

Westward I Go Free: Tracing Thoreau's Last Journey By Corinne Hosfeld Smith, Laura Dassow Walls (Foreword by) Cover Image
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Published: Green Frigate Books - June 1st, 2012

The Natural History Essays By Henry David Thoreau Cover Image
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Published: Gibbs Smith Publishers - April 1st, 2011

Thoreau's Maine Woods By Dan Tobyne (Photographer) Cover Image
By Dan Tobyne (Photographer)
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ISBN: 9780892728145
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Published: Down East Books - May 16th, 2010

Thoreau and the Art of Life: Reflections on Nature and the Mystery of Existence By Henry David Thoreau, Roderick MacIver (Editor), Roderick MacIver (Illustrator) Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781556438837
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Published: North Atlantic Books - March 16th, 2010

Walden: A Library of America Paperback Classic By Henry David Thoreau, Edward Hoagland (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Henry David Thoreau, Edward Hoagland (Introduction by)
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ISBN: 9781598530636
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Published: Library of America - December 31st, 2009

The Journal of Henry David Thoreau, 1837-1861 By Henry David Thoreau, Damion Searls (Editor), John R. Stilgoe (Preface by) Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781590173213
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Published: NYRB Classics - November 24th, 2009

Searching for Thoreau: On the Trails and Shores of Wild New England By Tom Slayton Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781884592447
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Published: Images from the Past - December 1st, 2007

Walden: A Fully Annotated Edition By Henry David Thoreau, Jeffrey S. Cramer Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780300110081
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Published: Yale University Press - May 11th, 2006

Walden and Civil Disobedience (Enriched Classics) By Henry David Thoreau Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780743487726
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Published: Simon & Schuster - July 1st, 2004

Cape Cod (Writings of Henry D. Thoreau #23) By Henry David Thoreau, Joseph J. Moldenhauer (Editor), Robert Pinsky (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Henry David Thoreau, Joseph J. Moldenhauer (Editor), Robert Pinsky (Introduction by)
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ISBN: 9780691118420
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Published: Princeton University Press - June 13th, 2004

Henry David Thoreau: Collected Essays and Poems (LOA #124) (Library of America Henry David Thoreau Edition #2) By Henry David Thoreau, Elizabeth Hall Witherell (Editor) Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781883011956
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Published: Library of America - April 23rd, 2001

Wild Fruits: Thoreau's Rediscovered Last Manuscript By Henry David Thoreau, Bradley P. Dean (Editor), Abigail Rorer (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Henry David Thoreau, Bradley P. Dean (Editor), Abigail Rorer (Illustrator)
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ISBN: 9780393321159
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Published: W. W. Norton & Company - February 17th, 2001

Walden and Other Writings (Modern Library Classics) By Henry David Thoreau, Brooks Atkinson (Editor), Ralph Waldo Emerson (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Henry David Thoreau, Brooks Atkinson (Editor), Ralph Waldo Emerson (Introduction by)
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Published: Modern Library - November 14th, 2000

Civil Disobedience By Henry Thoreau Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781557094179
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Published: Applewood Books - September 1st, 2000

Material Faith: Thoreau on Science By Henry David Thoreau, Laura Dassow Walls Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780395948002
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Published: Mariner Books - May 31st, 1999

A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers By Henry David Thoreau, H. Daniel Peck (Introduction by), H. Daniel Peck (Notes by) Cover Image
By Henry David Thoreau, H. Daniel Peck (Introduction by), H. Daniel Peck (Notes by)
$15.00
ISBN: 9780140434422
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Published: Penguin Classics - December 1st, 1998

Walden By Henry David Thoreau Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780460876353
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Published: Everyman Paperback - April 15th, 1995

A Year in Thoreau's Journal: 1851 By Henry David Thoreau, H. Daniel Peck (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Henry David Thoreau, H. Daniel Peck (Introduction by)
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ISBN: 9780140390858
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Published: Penguin Classics - December 1st, 1993

Civil Disobedience, and Other Essays By Henry David Thoreau Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780486275635
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Published: Dover Publications - May 20th, 1993

Walden: Introduction by Verlyn Klinkenbourg (Everyman's Library Classics Series) By Henry David Thoreau, Verlyn Klinkenborg (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Henry David Thoreau, Verlyn Klinkenborg (Introduction by)
$23.00
ISBN: 9780679418962
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Published: Everyman's Library - January 11th, 1993

The Maine Woods (Classic, Nature, Penguin) By Henry David Thoreau, Edward Hoagland (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Henry David Thoreau, Edward Hoagland (Introduction by)
$17.00
ISBN: 9780140170139
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Published: Penguin Classics - September 1st, 1988