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Henry David Thoreau was an american writer philosopher and naturalist whose work demonstrates how the abstract ideals of libertarianism and individualism can be effectively instilled in a persons life Born in Concord Massachusetts Thoreau was educated at Harvard University In the late 1830s and early 1840s he taught school and tutored in Concord and on Staten Island New York From 1841 to 1843 Thoreau lived in the home of American essayist and transcendental philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson where he met other American transcendentalists such as educator and philosopher Bronson Alcott social reformer Margaret Fuller and literary critic George Ripley In 1845 Thoreau moved to a crude hut on the shores of Walden Pond a small body of water on the outskirts of Concord He lived there until 1847 resided again with Emerson from 1847 to 1848 and spent the years from 1849 with his parents and sister in Concord During his residence at Walden Pond and elsewhere in Concord Thoreau supported himself by doing odd jobs such as gardening carpentry and land surveying The major portion of his time was devoted to the study of nature to meditating on philosophical problems to reading Greek Latin French and English literature and to long conversations with his neighbors Of the numerous volumes that make up the collected works of Thoreau only two were published during his lifetime A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers 1849 and Walden or Life in the Woods 1854 The material for most of the other volumes was edited posthumously by the authors friends from his journals manuscripts and letters A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers is the narrative of a boating trip that Thoreau took with his brother in August 1839 it is a combination of nature study and metaphysical speculation and bears the distinctive impress of the authors engaging personality In Walden his most enduring and popular work Thoreau explains his motives for living apart from society
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