"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."
- Henry David Thoreau.
Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts in 1817. He began his lifelong habit of journal keeping while at Harvard. After graduating in 1837 he taught briefly but resigned to protest the use of corporal punishment on the students, specifically whippings.
Shortly after, he and his brother, John Thoreau, opened a private school in Concord based on Transcendentalism. Transcendentalism was a popular literary and philosophical movement that asserted the primacy of the spiritual and transcendental over the material and empirical. One key influence on its growth was a desire to create a uniquely American body of literature and philosophy to mirror the independence that America had enjoyed politically since 1776.
The school was closed when John fell ill (and later died) and Thoreau moved in with Ralph Waldo Emerson (one of the founders of Transcendentalism), where he continued writing his journals.
Although some of his work was published during his lifetime (such as Walden, Or Life In the Woods (1854) he did not come to be regarded as a major literary figure until the 20th century. In fact, while alive, he was barely known outside his immediate circle and most of his writing was not published until after his death from tuberculosis in 1862.
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