Henry David Thoreau ~ 1817 – 1862


Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862)

One of America’s most famous writers – Henry David Thoreau – author, philosopher, naturalist was born on this day July 12, 1817 in Concord, Massachusetts. He began writing nature poetry in the 1840s, with poet Ralph Waldo Emerson as a mentor and friend. In 1845 he began his famous two-year stay on Walden Pond, which he wrote about in his master work, Walden, or Life in the Woods.  He is probably best known for Walden and  for his “Civil Disobedience” essay, which he wrote after spending a night in jail for not paying the poll tax. Locals may know him  for his 1848 work A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. He was also known for his beliefs in Transcendentalism. Thoreau was a dedicated abolitionist. Some think that Thoreau may be the most quoted American author.

Some of Thoreau’s notable thoughts:

“A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay
it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish
by acting.”
“Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.”
“Be not simply good – be good for something.”
“We were born to succeed, not to fail.”
“To be awake is to be alive.”
 “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he
hears a different drummer.  Let him step to the music which he hears, however
measured or far away.”


One Response to Henry David Thoreau ~ 1817 – 1862

  1. Jeffrey Cramer says:

    Thoreau did not write “Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.” It is by the poet, novelist and editor, John Boyle O’Reilly (1844-1890). Although the words appear as above in several collections of quotations and axioms, the line should read “Be true to your word and your work and your friend” as published in his poem, “Rules of the Road” in The Life of John Boyle O’Reilly by James Jeffrey Roche, together with his complete poems and speeches edited by Mrs. John Boyle O’Reilly (New York: Cassell Publishing Co., 1891) p. 533.