Henry David Thoreau

American naturalist, essayist, poet, and philosopher

Henry David Thoreau was a 19th-century prolific American poet and essayist best known for his work ‘Walden.’

After spending most of his life acquiring education and knowledge, Henry David Thoreau came to the conclusion that sometimes being a loser, as per society’s point of view, was the only way to allow himself to attain individual selfhood and tap the full essence of life.

Life Facts

  • His birth name is Henry David Thoreau, and he was originally from Concord, Massachusetts.
  • He was from a family with little means.
  • Thoreau was a very intelligent child prodigy and, later, as a young adult, went to Harvard.
  • He had a terminal illness from a young age, which affected his schooling as he occasionally took illness leave while in college.
  • Thoreau co-owned a commercial school with his elder brother, John.

Interesting Facts

  • Thoreau was friends with Ralph Waldo Emerson – who he also saw as a mentor.
  • He worked at a pencil factory that was owned by his father.
  • After college graduation, Thoreau didn’t have his life figured out. That’s when he thought about opening a school to teach people and make some money, as this was a popular trade at the time for the educated.
  • Thoreau left his family and friends and loved a more wilderness Walden Pond searching for new meaning to life.

Famous Books by Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau was quite productive in literary works often publishing several books, journal articles, and essays, and in terms of poetry wetting, the author managed more than twenty volumes during the cause of his life.

In regards to books written by Henry David Thoreau, there is at least a handful that readers can look up to and make the most of their time and money because of the helpful lessons, insight, and ideas that they offer. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers’ became Thoreau’s maiden book and it’s far from showing any indication of a book authored by a rookie as it proved an outstanding and mentally stimulating book. After his first book, he went on to write several other good books – including ’Walden’ – his best book. 

Walden’ is considered the best work of Henry David Thoreau and his legacy continues to live to date thanks to the ideas in this book. Originally published differently in eighteen article series, Walden is celebrated as one of 19th century greatest of literature and narrates the story of the trip of author Henry David Thoreau into the wilderness of Walden Pond – where he lived alone and away from society, survival on simple means and honest work. 

Civil Disobedience and Other Essays’ is another important work of pioneering author Henry David Thoreau, which includes a collection of great and influential essays and prose written by the author. Aside

Early Life and Education

Born to a pencil maker father, John Thoreau, and mother, Cynthia Dunbar, who was into apartment rentals, Henry David Thoreau was the third child of four siblings. As a child, Thoreau was brilliant and considered a prodigy, but in terms of material necessity, he didn’t quite have the best of it as his parents couldn’t afford to get him all he craved for childhood.

Growing up, Henry David Thoreau spent loving family time together – with his parents and three siblings; elder brother and sister John and Helen, and Sophia, his junior. Thoreau excelled in pre and middle school and attended Harvard College, where he studied foreign languages – including Greek and German.

After his college graduation, Henry David Thoreau, with his brother -John, established a progressive tutorship program where they taught and educate people partly for commercial purposes and partly for giving back to society.

Literary Career

Henry David Thoreau’s literary career was sparked by his meeting with some influential friends, especially the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson – who he would later take for a mentor and good friend. Thoreau was already a promoter of individualism and selfhood, so through Waldo Emerson’s guidance, and indoctrination into the transcendentalism movement, Thoreau’s literary iQ received some tremendous boosts.

Henry David Thoreau’s first novel  ‘A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers’ came shortly afterward and caused some huge intellectual upheaval in society. From there, Thoreau didn’t stop and wrote several other books, essays, and poetry – his finest work being ‘Walden.’

Literature by Henry David Thoreau

Explore literature by Henry David Thoreau below, created by the team at Book Analysis.