Henry David Thoreau was a man who expressed his beliefs of society, government, and mankind while living under his own self-criticism. He drew off his own life experiences to write his works, but with those experiences were his transcendentalist points of view he was trying to get across. This is reason why he was misunderstood in his own time people, merely read his books and dismissed them as nature books, it is the same reason that many of today's younger generation think of him as a hero. .
Henry David Thoreau was born on the 12th of July 1817 in Concord, Massachusetts, eighteen miles northwest of Boston (Concise 349). "Though Thoreau was born in "the era of good feeling," his family experienced many misfortunes, politically, physically, and financially (Harding 4)." Thoreau's father, John, was a small, quiet man who got along with Henry on the surface, but it seems that the two never quite understood each other's desires. John had weakening health, which caused the family's financial strain (Harding 11). Cynthia Thoreau, Henry's mother, was more of an outspoken, dynamic, person. Even though the family was poor, she was known always to have enough for her children and her neighbors as well (Harding 9-10).
The Thoreau's were a tight knit family. Poverty did not prevent the parents from creating a comfortable and supportive home life for their children. Soon after Henry's birth, they moved to nearby Chelmsford, and then to Boston. Economic misfortunes continued to plague the Thoreau's until the family moved back to Concord in 1823. "There Henry's father began a modestly successful pencil making business, and by 1833 the family was somewhat more prosperous (Miller 15).".
The Thoreau children were educated in the Concord public schools and later, at their mother's insistence and at some financial sacrifice, in the more adequate and prestigious Concord Academy (Concise 350). During the summer of 1833, Henry took the Harvard entrance exams.