This year marks the bicentennial of the birth of writer Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 - May 6, 1862). Below is a selection from the many activities planned by educational, cultural, and community organizations to celebrate the bicentennial throughout the year. Be sure to check the resources in this post to keep up with events.
✭ In what is described as "the first of its kind" in Massachusetts, the Walden Woods Project, Massachusetts Center for the Book, Freedom's Way Heritage Area, and UMass Lowell Honors College are sponsoring the Thoreau Bicentennial Statewide Read.
(See the planning toolkit page, where you'll find a toolkit for public libraries and a toolkit for high schools and colleges, and scroll to the bottom for other resources, including an application for 10 free copies of Walden and "Civil Disobedience".)
✭ Thoreau translators will present at the Concord Festival of Authors a panel on their motivations for translating Thoreau's work into different languages. (Details about the 2017 festival were not available when this post was written.)
✭ Author, actor, and activist Christopher Childs will appear May 20 and 21 in Concord, Massachusetts, in his one-person play Clear Sky, Pure Light: An Evening with Henry David Thoreau.
✭ Youth ages 14-21 are invited to enter the "Live Deliberately Essay Contest" in which they respond to a selected Thoreau quotation. The deadline is March 15. One winner in each age group (14-16, 17-18, 19-21) will be awarded a cash prize and a special edition of Walden. The contest is open to youth anywhere in the world.
✭ The Thoreau Bicentennial Annual Gathering, scheduled for July 12 in Concord, will celebrate Thoreau's life, works, and legacy. Walking tours, musical and dramatic performances, and other activities are planned. The keynote speaker will be Terry Tempest Williams.
✭ The Concord Orchestra will perform a "Thoreau Bicentennial Concert" at 8:00 p.m. on March 31 and April 1, featuring guest pianist Randall Hodgkinson. The concert will include a Hoffer piano concerto inspired by Walden, Robert Schumann's Manfred Overture, Liszt's Les Preludes, which is based on the four elements, and the world premiere of composer Eric Sawyer's Civil Disobedience. David Gullette will narrate.
✭ Concord Museum is co-sponsor, with The Morgan Library & Museum, New York City, of "This Ever New Self: Thoreau and His Journal", the first major exhibition devoted to Thoreau's life. On view will be 100 items, including journals and personal correspondence, manuscripts, rare books, botanicals, and personal artifacts. The exhibition runs from June 2 to September 10 at The Morgan and then travels to Concord, where it will be on view from September 29, 2017, through January 21, 2018.
✭ The Thoreau Society, UMass Lowell, and Mass Humanities have created Mapping Thoreau Country: Tracking Henry David Thoreau's Travels in Massachusetts. This is the first product of a longer-term project to examine Thoreau's historical legacy via multimedia materials.
✭ On July 19, 8:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m., NTQ (New Thread Quartet) will be at 51Walden Performing Arts Center, Concord, to perform David Morneau's new work Not Less Than the Good, described as "a secularized morning prayer service that uses Henry David Thoreau's Walden as the canticle text." The music features a sax quartet, live synthesizers, and recorded sounds, including from Walden Pond. Selected passages of Walden will be read.
✭ North Carolina's Lisa McCarty last year exhibited her photographs of Walden Pond in "Walden Pond in Four Seasons" at the Bull City Arts Collaborative's Upfront Gallery, Durham. Those images are part of McCarty's Transcendental Concord, documenting the sites and landscapes that inspired Transcendentalist philosophy and literature. A book on her project is to be released in July of this year.
✭ Former Wisconsin Poet Laureate Max Garland will be part of "Poetry in the Shadow of Walden", the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild's Garland Residency on July 13-16. Attendees will discuss Thoreau's writings and legacy as inspiration for new poems.
✭ The Concord Free Public Library kicks off its celebration with the exhibition "'Concord, which is my Rome': Henry Thoreau and His Home Town", July 7 - October 30; and a series of lectures, beginning July 14. (See "Thoreau Bicentennial Offerings" for details.)
✭ New books are appearing, including Thoreau and Reassessments (Cambridge University Press, October 2016), ed. by Kristen Case and K.P. Van Anglen; and Kevin Dann's Expect Great Things: The Life and Search of Henry David Thoreau (TarcherPerigee, January 3, 2017).
A bicentennial edition of Thoreau's The Illustrated Walden (TarcherPerigee, October 2016) also is available from PenguinRandom House. (See the book trailer.)
Also see Thoreauvian Modernities: Transatlantic Conversations on an American Icon, available from University of Georgia Press. Coming in July of this year is Laura Dassow Wall's Henry David Thoreau: A Life (University of Chicago Press).
Meet Henry David Thoreau, as Portrayed by Concord Historian and Thoreau Interpreter Richard Smith, on FaceBook
Henry David Thoreau Bicentennnial: 1817-2017 ~ You'll find here a calendar of events (you may add your own).
Henry David Thoreau Bicentennial Resources Page ~ You'll find here additional links to information about Thoreau's life and writings, including a timeline and lists of misquotations and misattributed quotations.
Thoreau Farm, Thoreau's Birthplace in Concord, Massachusetts
The Walden Woods Project on FaceBook
James Sullivan, "Why Thoreau Still Matters", Boston Globe, January 4, 2017