Henry David Thoreu was born in Concord, Massachusetts on July 12, 1817. He attended Harvard University and graduated in 1837. He moved back to Concord and met Ralph Waldo Emerson who exposed him to Transcendentalism. It’s a school of thought that emphasized the importance of empirical thinking and of spiritual matters over the physical world. It encouraged people to to observe the word at a deeper level. T
Thoreau’s exposure to the Transcendtalistic lifestyle is what inspired his most famous writing, Walden.
Thoreau built a small home for himself located in the woods on Walden pond. He lived in the home for two years striving for a simple lifestyle in nature. Thoreau broke routine and focused on his writing.
“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. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”
–Walden: :Life in the Woods
Thoreau desired to by inspired by nature, art and his own work rather then looking towards other people. By living in isolation he would be able to fully dwell alone without any outside influence. Transcendentalist focused on individualism and this idea of finding the answer within yourself because you are capable. Henry David Thoreau was the first person to put the philosophy of transcendentalism to the test and fully live it out which is why he is remembered.