2John Thoreau (a pencil maker) and Cynthia Dunbar. He had two older siblings, Helen and JohnJr., and a younger sister, Sophia. He studied atHarvard University between 1833 and 1837.
Thoreau wasn’t interested
in most of the subjects at Harvard, so after graduating heopened a grammar school with his brother John. After John died of tetanus, he returned toConcord and met Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson told Thoreau that he should contribute toessays and local new
spapers. Thoreau’s first essay consisted of revised pages from his journal,
which he wrote in following Emerson
’s advice.On April 18th, 1841, Thoreau moved to Ralph Emerson’s home. He served as a tutor,
assistant, and gardener.
Thoreau moved back to Concord and worked in his father’s pencil
factory. He worked there most of the rest of his life. Thoreau needed to concentrate and work more on his writing. He built a cabin on the shores of Walden Pond. Thoreau was arrested for not paying his taxes on July 25th, 1846. After he left jail, Thoreau self-published
yet only 300 copies were sold. Thoreau left Walden Pond to live at Emerson’s home again. In
1854, he published
, a reflection on the two years he spent in
the woods. Thoreau’s health
started to decline after 1858. On May 6th, 1862, Henry David Thoreau passed away at age 44.
His last words were,” Now comes good sailing”.Although his life was brief, Thoreau’s writings and ideals remain influential today.
Hiswritings introduce many people to the concepts of Transcendentalism. The Transcendentalist
movement faded not long after Thoreau’s death, but influenced the development of utopian
communities and movements such as non-violent protests and the Civil Rights Movement. Evencolleges that promote self-understanding and community activism, such as Evergreen StateCollege, have echoes of Transcendentalism.