“Is it important to introduce and explain your philosophy early in your autobiography?”
I believe this depends on your writing style. If you can incorporate your philosophy with coherency and logic throughout your book, then it is not important or necessary to introduce your philosophy early in the book.
If you introduce your philosophy early the reader can decide if they actually want to read the autobiography. When I read the autobiography of Henry David Thoreau, Walden, I found that his philosophy was scattered chaotically throughout his book, therefore making it hard to make ‘head-or-tail’ out of it.
Whether or not you explain your philosophy early in the autobiography really depends on your writing style.
“Would Walden (Henry D. Thoreau’s autobiography) benefit from more background on Thoreau’s life?”
In Walden there is not even one page in which Thoreau describes his early life, family (parents and siblings), education, work, etc…. He doesn’t give any background information whatsoever. Therefore, it is hard to know why certain later experiences affected him; why he made certain decisions; why he had certain philosophies.
I definitely think that Walden would benefit greatly from more background information on Thoreau, especially because it is an autobiography.
Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862) was an “author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor and historian.” He lived for two years by Walden Pond in a shack, alone. He studied Greek and Hindu culture and praised the Bhagavat-Gita—the great discourse narrated by Shri Krishna to the kyshtrya (warrior) Arjun. His autobiography is Walden.
Some of his philosophy and thought is a little bizarre. However, “Did Thoreau depend upon the division of labor during his stay at Walden Pond?” My answer would be no. He built his own cabin, and depended solely on himself for his entire stay at Walden Pond.