Table of ContentsEarly life and educationJobs and hobbiesPersonal beliefsSocial/Political influenceWritingsDeath
Early life and education Born in Concord, Massachusetts on July 12, 1817 Thoreau was named after a deceased uncle, named David Henry. He was more David Henry did not become Henry David until after college. Henry never petitioned to make a legal name change. 2 older siblings, Helen and John Jr. and a younger sister, Sophia. Henry attended the public school in Concord and the private Concord Academy. Unlike his brother, John, Henry was proven a better scholar and attended Harvard University. He did well but had to drop out later due to financial and healthy reasons. He graduated at the top of his class in 1837.
Jobs and Hobbies Thoreau had several jobs throughout his life. When Thoreau left Harvard, he taught at a school in Canton, Massachusetts Joined the faculty of the Concord public school. Started a grammar school with the help of his brother, John. After John died, Thoreau met up with Ralph Waldo Emerson and got advice from him. He was then influenced to contribute essays and poems to “The Dial”, a quarterly periodical. After moving into the Emerson house, he began tutoring children, assisting editors and was a repair man/gardener. While returning to Concord, he worked in his family’s pencil factory where he remained for most of his adult life.
Jobs and Hobbies continued… Henry invented a process to make a better pencil out of interior graphite using clay as the binder. Henry soon went back to writing. Later in 1851, Henry became interested in natural history and travel narratives. He kept a series of notebooks and observed nature. Henry did several travels which influenced a lot of his writings.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, andnot, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
Personal Beliefs Henry was one of the first supporters of Darwin’s theory. Loves wilderness and nature. He believes that people should conserve natural resources on private land while preserving wilderness on public land. Preferred being a vegetarian. He liked balance of civilization and wilderness. He was a “middle ground” believer. Hiked and canoed. Did not believe in slavery. He tried to find joy, creativeness, and happiness each day of his life.
Social/Political Influence Writings influenced many political leaders. Ex. “Civil Disobedience” Martin Luther King Jr. got the idea of non- violent resistance by reading “Civil Disobedience”. Also influenced authors and artists such as B.F. Skinner who kept a copy of “Walden” with him for ideas and inspiration.
Death Henry David Thoreau died on May 6, 1862 at the age of 44. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1835 and continued to suffer from it until his death. In 1858, Henry became ill with bronchitis. He soon was bedridden and died of bad health. He knew he was dying and had time to warn his friends and family and accept it for himself. His last words were “Now comes good sailing” and then pronounced “moose” and “Indian”.
WritingsHenry David Thoreau wrote several books, poetry, and essays.Some of his most famous works include: Walden Civil Obedience Herald of Freedom Summer Winter Autumn Sir Walter Raleigh The Service Slavery in Massachusetts Walking