Henry David Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817 in Concord Massachusetts. Thoreau was raised along side his brother and two sisters. He was a very intelligent student who went to Harvard College where he studied Greek, Latin, and German. Thoreau graduated from college in 1838, and had trouble deciding what to do next. It was typical for college graduated at the time, to pursue a career in the church, law, or medicine. Thoreau decided to go into education with his brother. They opened a school together, but it only lasted briefly because his brother became ill. Some time after college, he became friends with Ralph Waldo Emerson, who exposed him to transcendentalism, and became his mentor. Emerson helped promote Thoreau's writing, and some of his first work was published in a transcendental magazine called The Dial.
Emerson let Thoreau build a cabin on his property which came to be the inspiration of one of his most famous works, Walden. He spent two years on Walden Pond, starting in 1845. His goal was to live a simpler life. During his time on Walden Pond he wrote a collection of essays about his life in the woods. They were published into a book called, Walden, in 1854. Thoreau also had an encounter with the law while on Walden Pond, which caused him to write his most influential essay, "Civil Disobedience". Thoreau was also a devoted abolitionist and wrote many works to support the cause including the essay, "Slavery in Massachusetts". Later in his life, Thoreau battled tuberculosis and died from it on May 6, 1862, at the age of 45. "While other writers from his time have faded into obscurity, Thoreau has endured because so much of what he wrote about is still relevant today" (Bio.).