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Dear Mr. Thoreau is a work of epistolary fiction involving Henry David Thoreau, his real-life friends and family and the fictional Mary Bright and hers. The letters begin when Mary is eleven years old, and end when she marries and moves to London.

From the first letter…

Dear Mr. Thoreau,

My name is Mary. My last name is Bright so I am Mary Bright. I am eleven years old. Fanny says you walk a lot every day. Sometimes she sees you when she goes to the market. You are always in a hurry she says to get somewhere on your long walks. Mama tells her not to gossip and to mind who she’s talking to, a child who could go telling tales, especially about a kind man like Mr. Thoreau. I mean no unkindness Mr. Thoreau. I am curious about you that is all. Where do you go when you walk? Is it far away? Do you get tired?…

Mr. Thoreau do you think you will have time to write me? I would like that very much. You can leave a letter to Miss Mary Bright at the post office. Mama or Papa can collect it for me or maybe even James if he is not being hateful.

Your friend,

Mary Bright

About the Author

Claire Russell received a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee with a double major in Art History and English Literature. She has spent most of her life trying to solve at least some of life’s mysteries through studying, reading and writing, mostly poetry.