Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day: First Appearance of Thoreau's Walden

My daughter, Whitney, is visiting from St. Louis and reminded me that today is Earth Day. To commemorate this event, we looked for an appropriate magazine and arrived at Thoreau's "Walden" as a great example of early environmentalism in America.

Many years ago I was driving through Connecticut and happened upon a very remote bookstore. As usual, I asked the proprietor if she had any magazines, and she lead me to the appropriate location in her store. In the stack of old magazines I spotted a few issues of Sartain's Magazine from 1852 - a very rare and late volume. To my joy, unbeknownst to the proprietor, two of the issues were especially interesting to me. The first, from May, contained an article entitled "The Iron Horse" with the author simply identified as "Thoreau." The second issue of interest contained a story entitled "Voyage in a Balloon" by Anne T. Wilbur.

Trying as hard as I could to hide my racing pulse, I enquired as to the price. Seven dollars, each, I was told. I paid the lady and proceeded to enjoy reading the first ever appearance of any part of "Walden" as well as the first American appearance of "Anne T. Wilbur," better known as Jules Verne. Both magazines were in their original wrappers. I have never seen another copy of either.

No comments: