Author. A transcendental believer, he lived his theory of civil disobedience. He was born in the city of Concord, Massachusetts. His brother, an ornithologist, had a great influence on his life. Thoreau developed an interest in nature, spending much of his youth exploring the region's ponds and woods. His formal education started at the Concord Academy and then went on at Harvard College. Upon graduation returned to Concord and taught school. A lifelong friendship and association with Ralph Waldo Emerson began with introductions to other writers: Bronson Alcott, Ellery Channing, Margaret Fuller and Nathaniel Hawthorn. Emerson invited Thoreau to live at his residence with his family then offered him the use of his woodlot at Walden Pond. He constructed a one room house. He studied natural history, gardened, wrote in his journal, read, and drafted his first book, "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers." The highlight of his second year was a day in prison for refusal to pay a poll tax and led to the writing of "Resistance to Civil Government." After his Walden experience, Thoreau worked as a surveyor and pencilmaker. He continued to write and lectured around New England becoming increasingly involved with the social and political issues of the time. He helped runaway slaves escape to Canada. His essay, "Civil Disobedience," brought him international recognition. Suffering from tuberculosis, he contracted a bad cold while on a nature outing. His mother and sister tended to him before he died at age 44. Funeral services were held in the First Parish Church in Concord with all the area's famous illuminators in attendance and interment followed in the New Burying Ground the location of the graves of a brother, sister and father. Later, His grave and all members of his immediate family were moved to a section on the bluff which became known as "Author's Ridge." The Burying Ground became Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. No other cemetery in the land has such a concentration of notable authors in one place. Today, a clearly marked path leads visitors to each famous individual's grave. The"Yellow House" in Concord where Thoreau lived in the attic a good part of his life with the room where he wrote much of "Walden," his essays and journal is preserved and open to visitors. He died in the downstairs parlor. Walden Park State Reservation: This was a natural forest area surrounded by farmland when Thoreau went to live and work at Walden Pond. Here he stayed two years keeping a journal of his thoughts and encounters with nature. The result was the published book, "Walden." The park contains only the foundation on which Thoreau's chimney and hearth rested. The little house was bought by a farmer and moved to his property where it was used to store grain and eventually dismantled and lost. The pond area has been a popular public park area since the latter part of the 19th century encompassing everything from concessions, boats, halls for dining, dancing, a place for public speaking and July 4th festivals and commercial associations. Eventually the property including the pond was obtained by the State of Massachusetts and it became a park with a designation by the National Park Service as an historical site.
Bio by: Donald Greyfield