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Henry David Thoreau (born David Henry Thoreau; July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) is one of America’s most famous authors and poets, and one of the prominent writers of the Transcendentalist Era in the mid-19th century. Along with Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was a mentor of sorts to Thoreau, the two of them produced large bodies of work that formed the backbone of Transcendentalism. Thoreau in particular was an ardent abolitionist, naturalist, historian, philosopher, and also laid the groundwork for peaceful civil disobedience movements across the world in moral opposition to unjust states. Thoreau’s most famous work is Walden, which he wrote after living on Walden Pond outside Concord, Massachusetts for over 2 years. As Emerson’s movement and stature grew, he befriended other authors, including Nathaniel Hawthorne. But his work had its biggest effect upon Henry David Thoreau, who became a protégé of Emerson’s. Thoreau in particular took a keen interest in the idea of getting in touch with nature, writing in Walden, “Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind." Walden, which is Thoreau’s most famous work, was written as an account of Thoreau’s experience living in a small cabin in a forest along the shore of Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. Thoreau spent nearly two years communing with nature and living off the land, practicing a simplistic lifestyle. As he famously wrote in Walden, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Though Thoreau’s stay at Walden is often misconstrued as being one of isolation in the middle of the woods, Thoreau makes clear throughout the book that his cabin was not in wilderness but at the edge of town, about two miles from his family home, and he received visitors throughout his stay there.
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