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The Life and Works of Henry David Thoreau

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Henry David Thoreau's life and works, including his time at Walden Pond and essays like 'Civil Disobedience,' reflect his Transcendentalist beliefs and his views on nature and society. His advocacy for social justice and his contributions to natural science have left a lasting impact on literature and political thought. Thoreau's distinctive prose style combines clarity with rich metaphor, making his writings a cornerstone of American literature.

The Early Years of Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817, in Concord, Massachusetts, where he would spend the majority of his life. His early years in Concord, surrounded by nature, had a profound impact on his later writings and philosophies. Thoreau was educated at Harvard College, starting at the age of 16, where he studied a range of subjects including classics, philosophy, and science. Despite completing his coursework, Thoreau chose not to pay the customary fee to receive his official diploma. After leaving Harvard, he briefly worked as a teacher but resigned due to his opposition to corporal punishment. He and his brother John then established the Concord Academy, a progressive school that emphasized the importance of nature in education. The school closed after John's untimely death, which deeply affected Thoreau.
Serene Walden Pond with calm reflective waters, a weathered rowboat tied to a dock, and a dense, untouched forest under a clear blue sky.

Transcendentalist Influence and Thoreau's Early Literary Work

Thoreau's encounter with Ralph Waldo Emerson was a significant event that led to his immersion in the Transcendentalist movement. Emerson, a leading figure in the movement, became Thoreau's mentor and introduced him to other Transcendentalists. This philosophical movement, which arose in the 1830s, celebrated the inherent goodness of both people and nature, and advocated for a self-reliant, individualistic approach to life. Thoreau's early writings, which often originated from his detailed personal journals, were influenced by Transcendentalist thought. These writings, which included essays, poetry, and reflections, laid the groundwork for his later, more mature works.

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00

______ ______ ______ was born on ______ ______, ______, in ______, ______, and his upbringing there significantly influenced his future works.

Henry David Thoreau

July 12

1817

Concord

Massachusetts

01

Thoreau attended ______ ______ at 16, studying subjects like ______, ______, and ______, but he didn't pay the fee for his diploma.

Harvard College

classics

philosophy

science

02

After leaving Harvard, Thoreau started a ______ ______ with his brother, which focused on the role of ______ in education, but it closed following his brother's ______.

progressive school

nature

death

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