The New Student's Reference Work/Thoreau, Henry David

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Thoreau (thō'rṓ), Henry David, was born at Concord, Mass., July 12, 1817. He graduated at Harvard College in 1837, and became a surveyor. He lived the simplest of lives, spending most of his time in long tramps through the woods, in the study of nature and in writing. Emerson says of him: “He was bred to no profession; he never married; he lived alone; he never went to church; he never voted; he refused to pay a tax to the state; he ate no flesh; he drank no wine; he never knew the use of tobacco; and, though a naturalist, he used neither trap nor gun.” This poet-naturalist built with his own hands a small cabin on the banks of Walden Pond near Concord, and lived there by himself for two years. His expenses during these years were nine cents a day, and he gave an account of his experiences in perhaps his finest book, Walden, published in 1854. Others were Cape Cod, The Maine Woods and A Yankee in Canada. No one else has lived so close to nature or so written of it. He died at Concord, May 6, 1862. See Thoreau the Poet-Naturalist by Channing and Sanborn's Thoreau in The American Men of Letters Series.