Monday, January 31

thoreau's pencils

Henry David Thoreau's father was in the pencil business, which meant Henry was in the pencil business. Infact he introduced the idea of mixing clay with graphite to produce very good, non-smearing pencils. Best in the country at the time, that time being the 1830's. Further reading.

"Writing your name can lead to writing sentences. And the next thing you'll be doing is writing paragraphs, and then books. And then you'll be in as much trouble as I am!"
- Henry David Thoreau [this may be credited to a fictional HDT from The night Thoreau spent in jail: a play, not 100%]

Not only did Henry kill trees for pencils and profit, but in 1844 as a young man he also managed to set a fire that burnt over 300 acres in Concord, MA before it could be put out. Not his finest hour...

That event is the jumping off point for John Pipkin's 2009 book WoodsBurner that goes on to posit the idea that this act prompted the listless Thoreau to redeem himself by becoming an outspoken naturalist. Reading it now. Good stuff.