Bring History to Life with Henry David Thoreau

Meet and talk with Henry David Thoreau, author of Walden and "Civil Disobedience," in his cabin at Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts-- or arrange for a guided tour of Walden Pond, or a visit by Henry to your classroom or special event!

Henry David Thoreau (born 1817, died 1862) was a writer, philosopher, naturalist, surveyor, and pencil-maker. He was a friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Louisa May Alcott, and one of Concord's most unusual citizens. Learn more about Henry David Thoreau.

Historian Brent Ranalli has been active in Thoreau studies since 2009 and has been portraying Henry David Thoreau for children and adults since 2018. He is available for performances in Eastern Massachusetts, and beyond as well by special arrangement.

Brent is a member of SoloTogether, Boston's association of living history performers, impersonators, and reenactors. Check out their extensive roster of historical personalities and one-man/one-woman shows.

Brent Ranalli as Henry David Thoreau

Classroom Visits

Schedule a visit by Thoreau to your classroom. The performance or conversation can be integrated into curricula on writing, U.S. history, nature study, and more.

Contact for booking

At Walden Pond

Check upcoming performances for opportunities to meet Thoreau at the cabin replica by Walden Pond, or contact Brent to arrange for a guided tour.

Contact for booking

Special Events

Meet Thoreau at other events in and around Concord (see upcoming performances), or book an event of your own.

Contact for booking

Clients / hosts include:

  • Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation / Walden Pond State Reservation
  • Walden Woods Project / Thoreau Institute
  • Trustees of Reservations / The Old Manse
  • Walden Project / Willowell Foundation
  • Longmeadow Council on Aging
  • Gettysburg Green Gathering
  • Acton-Boxborough Public Schools
  • Wayland Public Schools
  • Concord Public Schools
  • Tewksbury Public Library
  • Walpole Public Library
  • Harvard University
  • Tufts University
  • LitCrawl Boston
  • Road Scholar

Seeing Brent as Henry approach along the paths of the Old Manse is magical and as close to time travel as one can get. His portrayal of Thoreau quickly engages visitors and his willingness to answer questions big or small sparks meaningful conversations about the past, nature, and philosophy. Visitors often comment that conversations with Henry make them eager to return to Thoreau’s essays that they have not read since high school or college.

--The Trustees of Reservations

Brent was a wonderfully talented presenter. Thoreau came to life in a way that was very humble, and real and accessible.... Folks were so inspired! 

--Road Scholar

Video clips:




Photo by Saltavore LaRiccia. Video by JoAnne LaRiccia. Visit LaRiccia Media Productions.