"Hardly a man takes a half hour's nap after dinner, but when he wakes
he holds up his head and asks, 'What's the news?' as if the rest of mankind had stood
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Correspondence 1: 1834-1848: Published on August 1, 2013, this is the inaugural volume in the first full-scale scholarly edition of Thoreau's correspondence in more than half a century. When completed, the edition's three volumes will include every extant letter written or received by Thoreau--in all almost 650 letters, roughly 150 more than in any previous edition, including dozens that have never before been published.
Correspondence 1 contains 163 letters, ninety-six written by Thoreau and sixty-seven to him. Twenty-five are collected here for the first time; of those, fourteen have never before been published. These letters provide an intimate view of Thoreau's path from college student to published author. At the beginning of the volume, Thoreau is a Harvard sophomore; by the end, some of his essays and poems have appeared in periodicals and he is at work on A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers and Walden. The early part of the volume documents Thoreau's friendships with college classmates and his search for work after graduation, while letters to his brother and sisters reveal warm, playful relationships among the siblings. In May 1843, Thoreau moves to Staten Island for eight months to tutor a nephew of Emerson's. This move results in the richest period of letters in the volume: thirty-two by Thoreau and nineteen to him. From 1846 through 1848, letters about publishing and lecturing provide details about Thoreau's first years as a professional author. As the volume closes, the most ruminative and philosophical of Thoreau's epistolary relationships begins, that with Harrison Gray Otis Blake. Thoreau's longer letters to Blake amount to informal lectures, and in fact Blake invited a small group of friends to readings when these arrived.
Following every letter, annotations identify correspondents, individuals mentioned, and books quoted, cited, or alluded to, and describe events to which the letters refer. A historical introduction characterizes the letters and connects them with the events of Thoreau's life, a textual introduction lays out the editorial principles and procedures followed, and a general introduction discusses the significance of letter-writing in the mid-nineteenth century and the history of the publication of Thoreau's letters. Finally, a thorough index provides comprehensive access to the letters and annotations.
The volume's editor, Robert N. Hudspeth, is Research Professor of English at the Claremont Graduate University and professor emeritus of English at Redlands University. He is the editor of The Letters of Margaret Fuller and the author of Ellery Channing.
Online Journal Transcript: Images of the manuscripts of the sixteen manuscript volumes Thoreau kept from September 3, 1854, through his last entry on November 3, 1861, can now be viewed along with the transcripts.
18 (September 3, 1854 - May 12, 1855)
19 (May 13, 1855 - January 3, 1856)
20 (January 4 - April 23, 1856)
21 (April 23 - September 6, 1856)
22 (September 7, 1856 - April 1, 1857)
23 (April 2 - July 31, 1857)
24 (July 31 - November 25, 1857)
25 (November 25, 1857 - June 4, 1858)
26 (June 4 - July 8, 1858)
27 (July 9 - November 9, 1858)
28 (November 9, 1858 - April 7, 1859)
29 (April 8 - September 21, 1859)
30 (September 22, 1859 - February 13, 1860)
31 (February 15 - July 22, 1860)
32 (July 23 - November 22, 1860)
33 (November 23, 1860 - November 3, 1861)
We the People: The Thoreau Edition has been designated a National Endowment for the Humanities "We the People" project because of the importance of Thoreau's writings in American history and culture.
Find a Quotation: Find the context of your favorite Thoreau quotation in this database.
Gleason Exhibit: The Concord Free Public Library offers a Web version of the exhibit "'Yours for the Conservation of Natural Beauty': The Landscape Photography of Herbert Wendell Gleason."