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Walden and other manuscripts of Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) from the Huntington Library

Walden: Or, Life in the Woods is widely recognised as a literary masterpiece and one of the seminal works of the modern age. Written during a two year retreat to a cabin on the shores of Walden Pond, near Concord, Massachusetts, it is at once a distinguished piece of natural history writing; a work of poetic beauty; an essay in transcendental philosophy; a polemic against industrialised labour and material possessions; and a pioneer ecological statement.

The original manuscript and corrected proofs of Walden, held at the Huntington Library, are now presented here on microfilm together with all of the library’s other rich resources documenting Thoreau’s life and work.

Highlights include:

Walden, or Life in the Woods [Holograph manuscript, includes parts of early versions, 1184pp, HM 924; and corrected proof, 119pp, HM 925]
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers [early, incomplete draft of Monday and Tuesday, 56pp, HM 956; fragments of an early draft, 6pp, HM 13194; and another early draft, 84pp, HM 13195]
Sections of the Journal [including fragments: 175pp, HM13182; 5pp, HM 13182; 4pp, HM 933; and related material such as a Journal Indexes, HM 13202 & 13203]
Index Rerum [Contains a library catalogue, reviews of books and a further Index to the Journal, HM 945]
Cape Cod [draft, with later notes, corrections and additions, 322pp, HM 13206]
An Excursion to Canada [An early draft, in lecture form, 196pp, HM 957; a revised version of chapters I & II, 57pp, HM 950; and final version, 214pp, HM 953]
Manuscripts of original poems such as: The Departure [HM 13184]; The Friend [HM 13188]; Godfrey of Boulogne [HM 13197]; Independence [early draft, HM 13186]; To the Mountains [HM 13183]; and The Virgin [HM 13187]
Poems [in the hand of Spohia E Thoreau and including Haze, The Funeral Bell, Voyager’s Song, Change Not, A Rural Scene, The Ark, Enoch, The Prayer, "Every little spring flows on", and "My feeble bark has reached the shore.", HM 1225]
College Essays [Including Of Keeping a Private Journal; Whether the Cultivation of the Imagination Conduce to the Happiness of the Individual; On the anxieties and delights of a discoverer; and On the advantages and disadvantages of foreign influence on American literature, HM 934]
A commonplace Book [49pp, HM 957]
Translations - Prometheus Bound and Seven Against Thebes [both translated from Aeschylus, HM 926& HM 13193]
Sir Walter Raleigh [First and final drafts, HM 935 & 943]
Gratitude [ with drafts and fragments of verse,
HM 13201]; and Love and Friendship [27pp, HM 13196]
The Maine Woods [Early draft of Part III, HM 13199]
Notes on a Journey from Concord, Massachusetts, to Minnesota, and return [100pp, HM 13192]
Part of the Map in Loskiel’s History [HM13200]
A Plea for John Brown [fragments, 32pp, HM 13202-3]

There is also an important collection of letters to, from and relating to Thoreau. Correspondents include John Thoreau , Ralph Waldo Emerson, Horace Greeley, Ticknor & Fields, Daniel Ricketson, and Sophia Thoreau.

An essential source for all those doing detailed work on the life and writings of Henry David Thoreau, these manuscripts will also be of valuable to all those with an interest in natural history writing and ecology, and for those studying the 19th Century New England influence on American Literature.

"Today Henry David Thoreau is universally acknowledged as one of America’s greatest writers whose prose at its best has seldom been equalled. His message becomes more significant with the passage of time. During the Depression years of the 1930s, for example, Thoreau seemed to speak directly to the problems of an industrial society gone bankrupt. In the period of the 1950s and 1960s, he inspired legions of civil rights activists, antiwar demonstrators, and advocates of counterculture. In our own age of crude materialism, conformity, and global concerns about environmental catastrophe and omnipotent technology, he speaks to millions."
Douglas T Miller
writing in Henry David Thoreau: A Man for All Seasons
(New York, 1991)

Digital Guide
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