Title: Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, 5 July 1887
Date: July 5, 1887
Source: Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Notes for this letter were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977).
Location: The Walt Whitman Collection, Boston Public Library
Whitman Archive ID: bpl.00016
Contributors to digital file: Alex Ashland, Stefan Schöberlein, Kevin McMullen, and Stephanie Blalock
July 5 '87
I shall get a good 4 or 5 room shanty by the water or in the woods2
Yes I sent you the card I ought to have sent to Baxter3—Can you send it to him4—this one also?—To day, Tuesday, we have the great relief of a cloudy, showery, fairly coolish day & I feel better—previously we had had a week of great heat & glaring sun & it had sapped me pretty well down—
William Sloane Kennedy (1850–1929) was on the staff of the Philadelphia American and later published biographies of Longfellow and Whittier (Dictionary of American Biography). Apparently Kennedy had called on the poet for the first time on November 21, 1880 (William Sloane Kennedy, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman , 1). Though Kennedy was to become a fierce defender of Whitman, in his first published article he admitted reservations about the "coarse indecencies of language" and protested that Whitman's ideal of democracy was "too coarse and crude"; see The Californian, 3 (February 1881), 149–158. For more about Kennedy, see Katherine Reagan, "Kennedy, William Sloane (1850–1929)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).
1. This letter is addressed: Wm Sloane Kennedy | Belmont | Mass:. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Jul 5 | 8 PM | 87. [back]
2. William Sloane Kennedy had proposed the idea of building the poet a "summer 'shanty'" on the farm land owned by George and Susan Stafford (parents of Whitman's young friend Harry Stafford), a place Whitman often visited in the summer. Sylvester Baxter took charge of raising money for this Cottage Fund project in and around Boston. See William Sloane Kennedy, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman (1896), 10–11. [back]
3. Sylvester Baxter (1850–1927) was on the staff of the Boston Herald. Apparently he met Whitman for the first time when the poet delivered his Lincoln address in Boston in April, 1881; see Rufus A. Coleman, "Whitman and Trowbridge," PMLA 63 (1948), 268. Baxter wrote many newspaper columns in praise of Whitman's writings, and in 1886 attempted to obtain a pension for the poet. For more, see Christopher O. Griffin, "Baxter, Sylvester [1850–1927]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]