Among the most significant American works of nonfiction, Henry David Thoreau’s Walden espoused the virtue of simplicity, posed thoughtful and probing questions about the nature of ethical living, and provided environmental inspiration to the world. The Huntington holds multiple manuscript drafts of this work in Thoreau’s hand.
In the summer of 1845, Thoreau abandoned his conventional life to live in a cabin next to Walden Pond, outside Concord, Massachusetts. He stayed for two years. In Walden, Thoreau’s account of his experience, he clearly stated his intentions: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”