Henry David Thoreau is considered one of the leading figures in early American literature, and Walden is without doubt his most influential book. It recounts the author's experiences living in a small house in the woods around Walden Pond near Concord in Massachusetts. Thoreau constructed the house himself, with the help of a few friends, to see if he could live 'deliberately' - independently and apart from society. The result is an intriguing work which blends natural history with philosophical insights, and includes many illuminating quotations from other authors. Thoreau's wooden shack has won a place for itself in the collective American psyche, a remarkable achievement for a book with such modest and rustic beginnings.
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Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1817, and attended Concord Academy and Harvard. After a short time spent as a teacher, he worked as a surveyor and a handyman, sometimes employed by Ralph Waldo Emerson. From 1845-1847 Thoreau lived in a house he had made himself on Emerson's property near Walden Pond. During this period he completed A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers and wrote the first draft of Walden, the book that is generally judged to be his masterpiece. He died of tuberculosis in 1862, and much of his writing was published posthumously.