Thoreau, not as reclusive as reputed, was friends (often close) with many authors of mid-19th-century classics. He worked for his neighbour and mentor Emerson as tutor, handyman and gardener. Hawthorne was a fireside companion, described his ugliness as honest and agreeable, and took him to dine with Longfellow. Whitman gave him a personal copy of ‘Leaves of Grass’. Thoreau told Louisa May Alcott how frogs were more confiding in the spring (she said that his beard would deflect amorous advances). He built a fancy summerhouse for her father, and sent Agassiz specimens from Walden Pond at age 12.