Portrait of Henry David Thoreau


Lifetime: 1817 - 1862 Passed: ≈ 161 years ago


American Naturalist, Essayist, Poet, and Philosopher.


United States

Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau's careful observations and devastating conclusions have rippled into time, becoming stronger as the weaknesses Thoreau noted have become more pronounced. Events that seem to be completely unrelated to his stay at Walden Pond have been influenced by it, including the national park system, the British labor movement, the creation of India, the civil rights movement, the hippie revolution, the environmental movement, and the wilderness movement. Today, Thoreau's words are quoted with feeling by liberals, socialists, anarchists, libertarians, and conservatives alike.

Henry David Thoreau was born David Henry Thoreau in Concord, Massachusetts, into the "modest New England family" of John Thoreau, a pencil maker, and Cynthia Dunbar. His paternal grandfather had been born on the UK crown dependency island of Jersey. His maternal grandfather, Asa Dunbar, led Harvard's 1766 student "Butter Rebellion", the first recorded student protest in the American colonies. David Henry was named after his recently deceased paternal uncle, David Thoreau. He began to call himself Henry David after he finished college; he never petitioned to make a legal name change. He had two older siblings, Helen and John Jr., and a younger sister, Sophia Thoreau. None of the children married. Helen (1812–1849) died at age 36 years, from tuberculosis. John Jr. (1815–1842) died at age 27, of tetanus. Henry David (1817–1862) died at age 44, of tuberculosis. Sophia (1819–1876) survived him by 14 years, dying at age 57 years, of tuberculosis.

Books by Henry David Thoreau

On the Duty of Civil Disobedience Cover image

On the Duty of Civil Disobedience

Slavery Rights Duties Governments Civil

Civil Disobedience is an essay by Henry David Thoreau. Published in 1849 under the title Resistance to Civil Government, it expressed Thoreau’s belief that people should not allow governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that people...

Walden Cover image


Memoir Travel
Autobiography Economy Solitude Village Spring

Two years, two months and two days! This is what forms the time line of one man's quest for the simple life and a unique social experiment in complete self reliance and independence. Henry David Thoreau published Walden in 1884. Originally drafted as...

The Maine Woods Cover image

The Maine Woods


On August 31, 1846, twenty-nine-year-old Henry David Thoreau left his cabin on Walden Pond to undertake a railroad and steamboat journey to Bangor, Maine, from where he would venture with his Penobscot guide Joe Polis deep into the backwoods of Maine...

Walking Cover image


Non-Fiction Essays
Nature Short Works Pursuit

This was originally a lecture given by Thoreau in 1851 at the Concord lyceum titled "The Wild" . He revised it before his death and it was included as part of the June 1862 edition of Atlantic Monthly. This essay appears, on the surface, to be simply...

Canoeing in the Wilderness Cover image

Canoeing in the Wilderness

Nature Exploration

A highly descriptive and engaging narrative from one of America's beloved nature writers, this short piece shows well Thoreau's great love of the early American wilderness. Be transported to the deep woods of Maine and share in both Thoreau's delight...

Cape Cod Cover image

Cape Cod

History Beauty Nature Travelling Explore Journey Geography

In this, Thoreau recounts his experiences during a series of trips to Cape Cod, a peninsula located in Massachusetts, USA. Thoreau's writing style is descriptive and poetic, painting vivid pictures of the landscapes, people, and culture of Cape Cod....

Excursions Cover image


Nature Culture Explore Society Life Short Works Observation Experiences

This book is a collection of Thoreau's musings and observations on various subjects, including nature, literature, and society. Thoreau's writing is known for its eloquence and depth, and "Excursions" is no exception. In this collection, he explores...

Walden oder Leben in den Wäldern Cover image

Walden oder Leben in den Wäldern

Memoir Essays Biography
Nature Autobiography Individuality Philosophical

Walden oder Leben in den Wäldern ist ein Buch von Henry David Thoreau, das erstmals 1854 veröffentlicht wurde. Es ist eine Reflexion über einfaches Leben in natürlicher Umgebung. Das Buch basiert auf Thoreaus Erfahrungen, als er in einer Hütte lebte,...