Emerson & Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau


Here are some fun (and completely random) facts ::

He was born David Henry Thoreau. After college he changed his name to Henry David, but from the reading I’ve done it looks like he never made that change legal.

The house he was born in Wheeler-Minot Farmhouse still stands today, but 100 yards from where it was originally. Moving houses fascinates me. Really, moving. a. building. It’s crazy!

His father was a pencil maker.

His grandfather Asa Dunbar let the first student protest in the US at Harvard University in 1766… over butter of all things. But, personally as a huge fan of butter, I can understand being upset about being served rancid butter. (the Butter Rebellion)

He attended Harvard between 1833 and 1837 but unlike his grandfather he did not take part in a butter rebellion. He did refuse to pay $5 for a (strange, honorary, in my opinion) Masters diploma Harvard would give graduates three years after graduating if they could prove they were alive and had $5 to pay the University.

Pertaining to his appearances, he wore a neck-beard for several years and claimed women liked that. (!!) It sounds like Lousa May Alcott might have set him straight on that disillusion.

He took a leave of absence from school in 1735 from school and took a teaching job, that he quickly left so he wouldn’t have to administer corporal punishment. He and his brother John, a few years later opened a Grammer School where they instituted some new concepts like nature walks (which I’m totally on board with) as well as field trips to local stores and businesses.

After graduating he met Emerson, our other author this month. Emerson was older than Thoreau and took him under his wing. Emerson encouraged Thoreau to write for The Dial, a quarterly periodical. (Nathaniel Hawthorne also wrote for The Dial) He even lived with Emerson from 1841–1844 and was his children’s tutor, assistant editor and gardener.

Much more can be read about his life on wikipedia.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

His formal education began when he was nine. (Wonder what would be different in our society if kids stayed home until they were nine now?)

I think he had the earliest form of GoodReads when he began keeping a list of all the books he read in a series of journals he called “Wide World”

His graduating class at Harvard was only 59 students and he was somewhere in the middle.

In 1826, due to poor health he started traveling south to find a better climate, finally ending in St. Augustine, Florida.

He was very good friends with the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, Murat.

He was part of the Transcendental Club as was Thoreau, both writing for its journal previously mentioned, The Dial. It’s reported it was the “most original and thoughtful periodical ever published in this country”. -wow!

More on Emerson here.

I could keep going but there’s just a little to give you a taste of some fun random facts from these guys. Have you read any other works by Emerson or Thoreau? Anything since back in high school when it was required? If I’ve read them before it was in school, and I’ve long since forgotten what works of theirs I’ve read. Hope you’re making great progress on our essays this month and we’ll see you next Thursday! **Remember we are now meeting at the other Paradise! If you didn’t get the evite email me (sarahronk{at}gmail{dot}com) or leave a comment or facebook msg. 

Happy Reading!

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