This Day In Literary History
On May 30th, 1849, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, the first book by the legendary American writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau, was published.
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers was Thoreau's account of a two week boat trip he'd taken with his brother John some ten years earlier. They had sailed from Massachusetts to New Hampshire and back.
The book was more than just a travel journal recording the sights and sounds of the title rivers; Thoreau also discussed history, poetry, religion, and other subjects, much like Mark Twain did in his classic memoir / travelogue, Life on the Mississippi.
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers was written as a memorial tribute to Thoreau's brother John, to whom he was very close. John had helped pay for Thoreau's tuition to Harvard.
After Thoreau was fired from his teaching job because he opposed corporal punishment and refused to administer it to his students, he and John founded their own school. Sadly, John died suddenly from tetanus a few years after their boat trip, passing away in Thoreau's arms.
Thoreau wrote A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers while he was living in his famous cabin at Walden Pond. Unable to find a publisher for the manuscript, he self-published it. Only a couple hundred copies were sold, leaving the author in debt.
It took Thoreau four years to pay off his printing debt for A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. After he made his last payment, the remaining unsold copies of his book were delivered to his home.
In his famous journal, he quipped, "I have now a library of nearly nine hundred volumes, over seven hundred of which I wrote myself."
Quote of the Day
"A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting." - Henry David Thoreau
Today's video features a boat ride down the Merrimack River. Enjoy!