To Celebrate Thoreau’s 200th Birthday

July 12th, 2017 by
Title page vignette of Thoreau's Walden, 1st ed., Department of Special Collections, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison

To celebrate Henry David Thoreau’s 200th birthday, we offer a preview of a new acquisition, the first edition of Walden, or, Life in the woods (1854). The work, with the imprint “Boston: Ticknor and Fields. MDCCCLIV,” was described by Francis Henry Allen, author of A bibliography of Henry David Thoreau (1908), p. 9:  “The lines beginning ‘Light-winged smoke, Icarian bird’ [p. 271] were published in the Dial for April, 1843, under the title of ‘Smoke, ‘ but nothing else in the book appears ever to have been printed before.”

The title vignette shows Thoreau’s hut at Walden Pond. Our copy is bound in brown cloth, stamped in blind on covers and spine, with author, title and publisher stamped in gilt on spine.

Cover of the first edition of Thoreau’s Walden, Department of Special Collections, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The final page of the advertisements in our copy points out that “Any book published by Ticknor & Fields, will be sent by mail, postage free, on receipt of the publication price. Their stock of Miscellaneous Books is very complete, and they respectfully solicit orders from CITY AND COUNTRY LIBRARIES.”

We are grateful for the Louis and Esther Kaplan Fund for Special Collections, which assisted us in the acquisition of this important first edition.

Watch this space for more about Thoreau’s Walden from our colleague Susan Barribeau, who engineered this acquisition.