Last Updated 26 Jan 2021

Henry Dvid Thoreau Biography (in First Person)

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I was born in Concord, Massachusetts on July 12, 1817. My family consisted of my Ma and Pa and three siblings; Helen, John Jr. and Sofia. We lived a very humble life; my father worked in a pencil company while my mother tended to the house and took care of me and my siblings. (Otfinoski pg. 60) My family was really pushing for me to start school at Harvard College but the cost was too expensive for my family. My father owned a small pencil factory and my mother took in boarders to help make ends meet.

But, through great sacrifice my family was able to pitch in the money to send me to college, and so I entered the class of 1833 at the age of 16 and graduated in the year 1837. (Otfinoski pg. 60) After graduating Harvard College I went back to Concord to start my own academy with my brother John Jr. and teach the way I felt was right. Together with my brother we taught about 20 students. I believe that the academy would have lasted longer if my brother hadn’t taken ill, the work was just too much for me to manage on my own. Otfinoski pg. 61-62) Shortly after closing the academy my brother died I was devastated. I walked 40 miles to attend one of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s lectures, soon after I was able to meet the great man. Emerson offered me a job; it was as a caretaker and a handyman in his home I would live there and work while he was away doing his lectures. In our free time we would discuss Transcendentalism, a philosophy for which he was well known. I was inspired by his radical view and ideas, and looked up to him as a mentor and hero. (Otfinoski pg. 2) Feeling it was time to see more of the world I left Emerson’s and headed back to Concord. In March 1845 I headed towards Walden Pond where I built a cabin for myself and stood there for two years. My reasons for going there were to experience life and discover the true account of it. During my time at the Walden Pond I worked tirelessly on the manuscripts that will later become my first two books. (Otfinoski pg. 62-64) In May of 1849 a Boston publisher published my first book, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers.

Although it sold poorly I never gave up. I later wrote about my experience living at the Walden Pond this book was entitled Walden which also wasn’t as popular as I would have hoped but that still didn’t bring me down. (Otfinoski pg. 64-66) Soon, nature being the very thing that I loved became my enemy as I contracted tuberculosis from living in the outdoors with the bad weather and the constant exposure to the graphite dust working in the pencil factory all caught up to me and on May 6, 1862 I died at the age of 45 years old. (Otfinoski pg. 67-69)

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Henry Dvid Thoreau Biography (in First Person). (2017, Mar 11). Retrieved from

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