Thoreau & Beyond



Beyond Thoreau


Henry David Thoreau was by no means the only member of the Concord-based movement of authors and thinkers whose writings and philosophies have collectively been known as American Transcendentalism, even if one might quite reasonably deem his book Walden to be arguably the most important and influential document published within that movement’s œuvre. That latter estimation would come along afterwards, but in his day the most preeminent person within that group would most certainly be Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Thoreau was very close friends with Emerson, along with several others among their Concord neighbours, and they would all meet regularly to socialize or discuss important issues of the day, or whatever other “transcendent” topics might arise, and they were a great influence on other writers as well (such as Walt Whitman).

That is the purpose and goal of this section of this website: to provide a little more context for the world that Henry lived in, those people he was influenced by, and what their thoughts were on matters similar to those which continually entertained his consciousness virtually every day. One might see even from skimming over the titles for the various essays included below that there is rather a leaning toward the spiritual traditions of Christianity among those other authors — which is perfectly understandable, in light of the simple fact of that being their heritage. This only makes Thoreau’s Walden and so many of his other writings stand out even more in their uniqueness, for as any reader of his works can’t help but acknowledge, the breadth of his learning — from Greek mythology to Eastern mysticism and beyond — was extraordinarily vast. Thoreau’s understanding of the world, reflected in his writings, truly transcended even those like Emerson who he himself considered his mentors.

However, if there is any other theme which is central to the philosophies of this group of writers, it would be that which is unquestionably a great focus of Walden and so many of Thoreau’s other writings, and which is reflected especially in their poetry — that being a profound appreciation for Nature, and the perception of Nature as being a source of divinity and mystical inspiration in itself.

All of these various authors whose biographies and literary works have been presented here in this section each have their own merits (and in some estimations faults), but it is the hope that this will provide the reader a greater understanding and appreciation for the context in which Thoreau lived, the times in which he lived, and those whom he associated with, was influenced by himself, those whom he called his friends.

And it is also the hope that through this overview one might also grasp just how unique and truly extraordinary Thoreau’s contribution was to the collective philosophies of the American Transcendentalism movement — he may not have defined what it all stood for back in his own day, but to this day his works have truly become virtually definitive of it.



Ralph Waldo Emerson


Biographical Sketch

— by Ann M. Woodlief

Divinity School Address


Transcendental Bible

— by Lidian Emerson


Margaret Fuller


Biographical Sketch

— by Ann M. Woodlief

The Great Lawsuit. Man versus Men. Woman versus Women.

A Short Essay on Critics


Rev. William Ellery Channing


Biographical Sketch

— by Ann M. Woodlief

Likeness to God


Theodore Parker


Biographical Sketch

— by Ann M. Woodlief

The Transient and Permanent in Christianity



Amos Bronson Alcott


Biographical Sketch

— by Amy Belding Brown

Maxims on Education


Jones Very


Biographical Sketch

— by Bryan Hileman


The Canary Bird

The Eagles

The Garden

The Son


[William] Ellery Channing


Biographical Sketch

— by Ann M. Woodlief

The Earth Spirit

Hymn of the Earth



Christopher Pearse Cranch


Biographical Sketch

— by Ann M. Woodlief



I in Thee, and Thou in Me

Gallery of Paintings


Walt Whitman


Walt Whitman and Transcendentalism

— by Ann M. Woodlief

Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d

Song of Myself


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