Thoreau's family participated in the "quiet desperation" of commerce and industry through the pencil factory owned and managed by his father.Thoreau family pencils, produced behind the family house on Main Street, were generally recognized as America's best pencils, largely because of Henry's research into German pencil-making techniques.When John endured a lengthy illness in 1841, the school became too much for Henry to handle alone, so he closed it.
Emerson was by then already one of the most famous American philosophers and men of letters.
Since Thoreau's graduation from Harvard, he had become a protégé of his famous neighbor and an informal student of Emerson's Transcendental ideas.
Schneider Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was born and lived nearly all his life in Concord, Massachusetts, a small town about twenty miles west of Boston.
He received his education at the public school in Concord and at the private Concord Academy.
Proving to be a better scholar than his more fun-loving and popular elder brother John, he was sent to Harvard.
He did well there and, despite having to drop out for several months for financial and health reasons, was graduated in the top half of his class in 1837. In 1837, America was experiencing an economic depression and jobs were not plentiful.
Work in the pencil factory was tedious and tiring, and, since his mother took in boarders, there was little quiet or privacy in the house.
Remembering a summer visit to the retreat cabin of college friend Charles Stearns Wheeler, Thoreau developed a plan to build such a house for himself where he could find privacy to write.
In the years after leaving Walden Pond, Thoreau published was a modest success: it brought Thoreau good reviews, satisfactory sales, and a small following of fans.
Thoreau returned to the Emerson home and lived there for two years, while Emerson was on a lecture tour in Europe.