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Henry David Thoreau

Mark Tully assesses Henry David Thoreau's influence, 150 years after his death. Advocate of the simple life and champion of emancipation, Thoreau's influence persists to this day.

Mark Tully assesses Henry David Thoreau's influence, 150 years after his death. Advocate of the simple life, champion of emancipation, and fervent opponent of government interference in the lives of citizens, Thoreau's 19th century ideals have inspired civil rights leaders from Mahatma Gandhi to Martin Luther King.

Mark Tully looks not just at Thoreau's famous writings expressing his remarkable affinity with the American outdoors, but at his political activism too, and the legacy it has left around the world. From tax avoidance, to his opposition to slavery, Thoreau was an ardent supporter of the ordinary person. His passionate ideas inspired thinkers and humanitarians, as well as generations of writers, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman and WB Yeats.

Musicians and composers too, were moved to pay tribute to Thoreau and the programme includes works by such diverse fans as Charles Ives and Pink Floyd.

In asking what we can learn today from the writer of the American classic Walden, Mark Tully reassesses Thoreau's message for the 21st century.

Producer: Adam Fowler
A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

30 minutes

Last on

Sun 6 May 2012 23:30

Music Played

  • Charles Ives

    Concord Sonata

    Performer: Marc-André Hamelin

    • Ives Concord Sonata, Barber Piano Sonata: Marc-Andr√© Hamelin.
    • Hyperion.
    • CDA67469.
  • Pink Floyd


    Performer: Pink Floyd

    • Dark Side of the Moon.
    • EMI.
    • 29876.
  • Terry Gilkyson

    Bare Necessities

    Performer: Phil Harris and Bruce Reitherman

    • The Jungle Book Original Soundtrack.
    • Disney Records.
    • 860704.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Symphony No.6, Pastoral

    Performer: Berliner Philharmoniker directed by Herbert von Karajan

    • Beethoven: Symphonien Nr.5&6.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
    • 413932-2.
  • Thomas Banks

    Long Walk to D.C.

    Performer: The Staple Singers

    • The Very Best of the Staple Singers.
    • UMC.
    • 30295.