Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
Thoreau believed in simplicity and living a non-cluttered existence. As early as 1840, before his two-year stay with Emerson, Thoreau entertained the idea of living alone in a serene setting in Nature. In 1845, he borrowed an axe and set out for Walden Pond to live on a piece of land owned by Emerson. He built himself a small cabin in which to live and cultivated land to grow vegetables for his meals. During his stay at Walden Pond, he closely observed Nature and her many creatures and plants. He would also walk into Concord in order to make comparisons to his life in the wild to the more civilized existence of town living. In his journal, he kept a daily record of all of his observations and musings. He used this journal as the basis of his book, Walden.
Walden, although published during Thoreau's lifetime, gave him neither financial nor literary success. Even after the book's publication and lack of success, Thoreau did not grow discouraged. He continued to keep his journal, trying to make daily entries. He also continued with other literary efforts and traveled to several parts of America in an attempt to see more of his country and learn more about himself.
Consumed with tuberculosis, Thoreau died on May 6, 1862, at Concord. His death, at the age of forty-five, went largely unnoticed, with merely a handful of literary personalities paying tribute to him. Even Emerson did not do Thoreau justice, for he took much undue credit for Thoreau's work. In actuality, Thoreau remained virtually an unknown writer for at least half a century after his death. In the early twentieth century, however, he became recognized as an author, and Walden became a popular book, especially in the classroom. Today this masterpiece of non-fiction is acknowledged as a classic piece of American literature.