A Thoreau Chronology

Compiled by Bradley P. Dean for Faith in a Seed and Wild Fruits

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1817
Born July 12 in Concord, Massachusetts, to John and Cynthia (Dunbar) Thoreau.
1828-33
Attended Concord Academy.
1833-37
Attended Harvard College.
1837
Taught briefly at Concord Center School (public).
1838-41
Conducted a private school in Concord with his elder brother John.
1839
Went on boating excursion on Concord and Merrimack rivers with his brother John.
1840
Poems and essays published in The Dial.
1841-43
Lived with Ralph Waldo Emerson and his family in Concord.
1842
John Thoreau, Jr. (brother), died suddenly of lockjaw; "Natural History of Massachusetts" published.
1843
"Walk to Wachusett" and "A Winter Walk" published; tutored William Emerson’s children on Staten Island, New York.
1844
Accidentally set fire to woods in Concord with Edward Hoar.
1845-47
Lived in a small house he built himself on the shore of Walden Pond.
1846
Traveled to Maine and climbed Mt. Katahdin; spent a night in jail for refusing to pay a poll tax.
1847-48
Lived in Emerson household while Ralph Waldo Emerson lectured in England.
1848
Began career as professional lecturer; "Ktaadn and the Maine Woods" published.
1849
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers and "Resistance to Civil Government" ("Civil Disobedience") published; traveled to Cape Cod; elder sister Helen died, apparently of tuberculosis.
1850
June:  Traveled to Cape Cod. 
July:  Traveled to Fire Island, New York, in search of Margaret Fuller’s remains. 
August 29:  Moved into third-floor attic of parents’ house on Main Street, Concord. 
September–October:  Traveled to Quebec. 
November:  Began dating journal entries regularly; stopped cutting pages from journal volumes as part of his writing process. 
December 18:  Elected corresponding member of the Boston Society of Natural History.
1851
April 23:  First delivered "Walking, or the Wild" lecture. 
Summer: Began commonplace book for natural history readings; began compiling phenological lists and charts. 
September 7:  Notes in journal that his profession was "to find God in nature." 
1852
April 18:  Notes in journal that he first perceived that "the year is a circle." 
July 2:  Notes in journal that this was his "year of observation." 
1853
Traveled to Maine woods; portions of "A Yankee in Canada" published
1854
Walden; or, Life in the Woods and "Slavery in Massachusetts" published; delivered early "Life without Principle" lecture for first time in Providence, Rhode Island.
1855
Traveled to Cape Cod; Portions of "Cape Cod" published
1856
Surveyed Eagleswood Community near Perth Amboy, New Jersey.
1857
Traveled to Cape Cod and Maine Woods; "Chesuncook" published.
1858
Traveled to White Mountains in New Hampshire.
1859
February:  John Thoreau (father) died; delivered "Autumnal Tints" lecture in Worcester, Massachusetts. 
October:  Began writing Wild Fruits; delivered "A Plea for Captain John Brown" in Concord.
1860
February 8:  Delivered "Wild Apples" in Concord, getting "long, continued applause" at end of lecture. 
June–September:  Worked on third draft of Wild Fruits. 
September–October:  Delivered "The Succession of Forest Trees" in Concord, Massachusetts; published same in New-York Weekly Tribune. 
October–November:  Visited local woodlots almost daily; worked on both Wild Fruits and The Dispersion of Seeds.
December: Worked on both Wild Fruits and The Dispersion of Seeds
December 3:  While researching tree growth, contracted a severe cold, which rapidly worsened into bronchitis and kept him housebound. 
December 11:  Delivered last lecture, "Autumnal Tints," in Waterbury,Connecticut. 
1861
January–early May:  Worked on both Wild Fruits and The Dispersion of Seeds
May 12–July 14:  Traveled to Minnesota with Horace Mann, Jr., in effort to regain health.
1862
February 20:  Sent "Autumnal Tints" manuscript, culled from The Fall of the Leaf, to The Atlantic Monthly
February 28:  Sent "Life without Principle" manuscript to The Atlantic Monthly.
March 11:  Sent "Walking" manuscript to The Atlantic Monthly.
April 2:  Sent "Wild Apples" manuscript, culled from Wild Fruits, to The Atlantic Monthly. 
May 6:  Died in Concord, Massachusetts.
Copyright © Bradley P. Dean, all rights reserved. 
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