The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau Dunshee Ambrotype of Thoreau, 1861 (Courtesy Concord Museum)
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"Young maples, Walden Pond, Thoreau's Cove, June 11, 1901" (Courtesy Concord Free Public Library)
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"I have now a library of nearly 900 volumes over 700 of which I wrote myself--"

-----Journal, October 28, 1853

(Thoreau's first book, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, sold poorly and the publisher returned 706 unsold copies to the author.)


Although Henry David Thoreau has earned an international reputation as a naturalist, social philosopher, and literary artist of the first rank, no scholarly edition of his writings has previously been undertaken. The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau provides, for the first time, accurate texts of Thoreau's complete works: his writings for publication, his Journal, his correspondence, and other uncollected papers. Much of the material in this edition has never been published before. The contents of all forty-seven volumes of Thoreau's handwritten Journal will appear in sixteen printed volumes. Our edition, based on a line-for-line transcript of the Journal manuscripts made for this project, presents significant new material, including hitherto unpublished manuscript volumes, in a format that consciously reflects the physical nature of the manuscript. Thoreau's writings for publication are edited from the manuscript or printed versions that most clearly represent Thoreau's intentions.

The Thoreau Edition was founded in 1966. To date, sixteen volumes of a projected twenty-eight have been published by Princeton University Press. The project, located in Davidson Library at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and directed by Elizabeth Witherell, is supported by UCSB, the National Endowment for the Humanities, an independent federal agency, and the Barkley Fund..

In June 2003 the Thoreau Edition was designated an NEH "We the People" project because of the importance of Thoreau's writings in American history and culture.